Final-ly: Red Wings Down Stars to Head to Stanley Cup Finals

In their third try, the Detroit Red Wings eliminated the Dallas Stars and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night with a 4-1 win.

After taking a 3-0 lead in the series, Detroit dropped the following two games, in which they could have finished off the Stars. In those games, the Red Wings were held to a total of two goals.

Lack of offense wouldn’t be their downfall this time, as Kris Draper got Detroit on the board just 3:45 into the game. Dallas Drake fired the puck on net from the left wing corner and it came high, bouncing off of Draper’s chin before dropping down and finding it’s way into the net as Draper whacked at it.

A Pavel Datsyuk power play goal put Detroit up by a pair with 8:19 left in the period. Nicklas Lidstrom‘s long shot was stopped by Turco but Nicklas Grossman couldn’t find the rebound in his skates at the edge of the crease. Datsyuk jumped up and lifted it over Turco.

Drake added a goal of his own with 3:43 left in the first, going to the top of the crease to bang the puck past Turco when Brett Lebda threw it on net from the right wing.

The Stars looked to get back into the game with a early second period power play but Henrik Zetterberg put an end to those thoughts, picking off a pass high in the Detroit zone and racing in all alone on Turco, faking him for a shorthanded goal at 3:11. It was his second shorthanded goal of the series.

Dallas finally got on the board when Stephane Robidas beat Chris Osgood on a Dallas power play at 2:27 of the third period, blasting a shot from the top of the left circle off a feed from down low by Mike Ribeiro.

Osgood stopped 28 of 29 shots against on the night, including 15 of 16 in the third period as the Stars attempted a comeback. Turco made 25 saves on 29 shots.

Each team scored once on the power play, with Detroit getting two chances with the extra attacker and Dallas having seven tries.

The Red Wings advance to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals, beginning Saturday night in Detroit.

The Red Wings were without Chris Chelios, who missed the game with a leg injury. Andreas Lilja played in his place.

Stanley Cup Finals Schedule

The schedule for the Stanley Cup Finals has been released.

May 24, 2008 @ Detroit
May 26, 2008 @ Detroit
May 28, 2008 @ Pittsburgh
May 31, 2008 @ Pittsburgh
June 2, 2008 @ Detroit
June 4, 2008 @ Pittsburgh
June 7, 2008 @ Detroit

All games start at 8:00 PM.

Tickets for games in Detroit go on sale at noon on May 20.

Stars Comeback Continues with 2-1 Win in Detroit

The Dallas Stars caught the Detroit Red Wings on bad line changes twice on Saturday and it was all they needed, scoring both times to pick up a 2-1 win and pull back within a game in the Western Conference Finals, with the series now at 3-2.

Dallas goalie Marty Turco won for the first time in his career at Joe Louis Arena, making 38 saves and picking up an assist in the effort.

Trevor Daley got the Stars on the board at 9:21 of the first period. The Red Wings were slow to make a line change and Turco moved the puck quickly on a dump in, getting it to Niklas Hagman who moved it up to Brad Richards on an odd-man rush. Richards dropped it off to Daley who snapped it past Detroit goalie Chris Osgood from the slot.

The Red Wings responded on a power play with 4:30 left in the period. Valtteri Filppula worked the puck from down low up to Niklas Kronwall at the top of the right circle. Kronwall sent a shot intentionally wide for Jiri Hudler to redirect on net. Turco made the stop on the redirection but Hudler banged in the rebound.

At 6:04 of the second period, Chris Chelios left the ice for an ill-timed change and Turco took advantage again, sending a long pass to Joel Lundqvist to put the Stars in on a two-on-one. Lundqvist kept the puck and rifled it past Osgood to put Dallas back in the lead.

Neither team would score for the remainder of the game.

Osgood stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced.

The Red Wings went one-for-three on the power play while the Stars were scoreless on four tries.

Game Six will be in Dallas on Monday night.

Campbell Admits Holmstrom is a Marked Man

The Vancouver Sun (found via George Malik) has a quote from NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell where Campbell admits that refs have been instructed to watch Tomas Holmstrom closely.

“Babcock said we were watching for it. Listen, we’d be fools if we didn’t meet before games to talk about Holmstrom. He crowds the crease. You don’t have to be Sam flippin’ Pollock to figure that out,” the NHL’s senior VP of hockey operations, Colin Campbell, said in a telephone interview with The Vancouver Sun.

The Sun didn’t push further, choosing to focus on the need for video review in plays like the one we saw Wednesday.

He’s my question for Campbell: Who else is marked? Is Ryan Smyth watched just like Holmstrom? Are the officials on the lookout for slashes by Marty Turco or elbows from Chris Pronger or holds by Steve Ott?

Yes, Holmstrom crowds the crease. But when Pronger plays a highly-physical game it’s praised and referred to as playing on the edge. Holmstrom plays on a different edge but it doesn’t mean he should be treated any less leniently.

On Make-up Calls

Yesterday I posted a bit to YahooGroup “redwing” and thought I’d expand on the idea here.

So the general consensous is that the disallowed Detroit goal in Game Four was a make-up call for when goalie interference probably should have been called on Tomas Holmstrom on Detroit’s third goal in Game One. Here’s where it gets messy…

The refs in Game One were Kevin Pollock and Bill McCreary. Neither of them were refs Wednesday night, which means that in order for it to be a make-up call then Kelly Sutherland would have either had to have decided to take it upon himself to make up for another ref’s mistake or he was ordered to by someone else.

This, to me, is absolutely unacceptable. I can understand a make-up call if it’s made by the same ref, in the same game, within a few minutes of the original call. Not the case here.

The problem is that the NHL always backs the refs. After Game One, no one in the league offices said that there was a problem with Detroit’s third goal. Now, after Game Four, Gary Bettman himself says that Sutherland made the right call.

You can’t have it both ways. One was right or one was wrong.

It’s because the NHL doesn’t admit that there are bad calls that makes it so you “have” to have make-up calls. There’s this ridiculous need to “fix” what happened.

Instead of calling make-up calls, start calling out officials. Acknowledge that they’re not perfect but that they work to be better. When an official makes a mistake, suspend them. Make this information public knowledge so that fans know the league is working to get better.

While this doesn’t fix the mistake that happens, it’s not all that different from suspending Jamie McLennan for slashing Johan Franzen when there was no chance the Red Wings were going to see McLennan again anyway.

We know the refs aren’t perfect but it’s ridiculous for the league to say that they are.

The Butterfly Effect

The next day and I still don’t know what to say. I haven’t done a recap ’cause I don’t even want to have to write it. I haven’t done a blog ’cause all I want to write is a stream of profanity.

I’m a big fan of alternate history. Seeing how the butterfly effect might have changed things. Looking at this game, the Wings didn’t play well. I have to think, though, that Detroit taking a 1-0 lead would have taken away all of Dallas’ momentum.

It’s not simply a 3-1 game becoming 3-2. Everything from the point of that goal would have changed. Maybe the Stars feel more pressure and push too hard, taking stupid penalties that they didn’t take in the game we saw.

It’s a change in mindset. Instead of Dallas thinking “Whew, we just dodged one.” it would have been “Damn, what do we have to do to stop these guys?” Doubt creeps in.

But we didn’t see that. Call it a make-up call, a reputation call, whatever. Because of it, we were robbed of seeing what the game should have been. It might not have changed the outcome but it would have changed the game.

Red Wings Sign Goaltender Larsson

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Wednesday that they have signed goaltending prospect Daniel Larsson to a two-year entry-level deal.

Larsson was the top goaltender in the Swedish Elite League for the 2007-2008 season, earning a 2.29 GAA and a .921 save percentage playing for Djurgardens.

“I think he’s interested in coming to North America. The expectation is he’ll be in Grand Rapids (next season),” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “He was voted the best goalie in the Swedish Elite League. I saw him play a game in late January. I like him, he’s got real good feet, good glove. He’s a good prospect.”

Larsson was selected by the Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL entry draft.