Datsyuk, Draper Remain Out of Red Wings Lineup

With the quick turnaround between games there’s not a whole lot of Game Two pregame news but Mike Babcock has confirmed one thing: The Red Wings will go with the same lineup as in Game One.

This means that Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper remain out. Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino remain in.

Red Wings Make Their Own Bounces in Game One Win over Penguins

The Detroit Red Wings score two goals on plays off the end boards and one more with a bouncing puck Saturday night, leading to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 1-0 lead in their Stanley Cup Finals matchup.

Brad Stuart, Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader were Detroit’s goal scorers. Ruslan Fedotenko scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal.

Stuart opened the scoring with 6:22 left in the first period. After holding in the puck at the Pittsburgh blue line, Stuart snapped a shot purposely wide of the net in an attempt to work it down low to Marian Hossa.

Instead, the puck bounced off of the end boards and came back to the side of the net, hitting the back of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury‘s leg and deflecting into the goal.

Fedotenko tied the game with 1:23 left in the period. Stuart gave the puck up to Evgeni Malkin on the left wing in the Detroit end and Malkin fired a hard shot on Red Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood. Osgood couldn’t control the rebound and Fedotenko swept in to put it into the back of the net.

Franzen put Detroit back in front with 58 seconds left in the second period. Brian Rafalski fired a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle wide of the net, bouncing it off the back boards. Franzen picked up the puck at a low angle to the goal mouth and banked a shot of of Fleury and in.

Just 2:46 into the third period Abdelkader extended the Detroit lead. In a goal mouth scramble, Abdelkader gloved the puck out of the air and dropped it down to his stick. As it bounced, he golfed a shot into the top corner over Fleury’s shoulder.

Fleury finished the night with 27 saves on 30 Detroit shots. Osgood stopped 31 of 32 Pittsburgh chances, including a Malkin breakaway early in the second period.

Neither team scored a power play goal. Detroit had one chance with the extra attacker while Pittsburgh had two.

The two teams will meet in Game Two on Sunday night.

The Red Wings played without Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper, both of whom missed the end of the Western Conference Finals with injuries. Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson returned to the Detroit lineup to start the Stanley Cup Finals.

Stanley Cup Finals Thoughts, Game One Pregame

It’s been quiet around here since the Red Wings finished off the Blackhawks and for good reason. Like the Wings themselves, I’ve needed some time off. Much like my hiatus at the end of the regular season it hasn’t been for any bad things, just very busy right now.

Detroit finished off Chicago in five games an as a reward got all of two days rest. Their injuries at the end of the Western Conference Finals have partially healed but they’re still hurting. Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson are scheduled to return to the lineup tonight but it’s looking like the Red Wings will begin the Stanley Cup Finals without Pavel Datsyuk or Kris Draper.

It looks like this puts Chris Chelios and Derek Meech back in the press box while Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino make their first-ever Finals appearances.

A lot has been made of what the Pittsburgh Penguins learned during last year’s Finals loss to the Red Wings and that Pittsburgh is a better team than last season. While I won’t deny they’re playing extremely well, I have a hard time taking them seriously.

Their team has gotten better but last year they had Marian Hossa and this year they don’t. That’s a huge loss, one that the addition of Bill Guerin doesn’t make up for. While the Penguins individual players have gotten better I don’t see them as being as talented of a team as a whole without Hossa.

It’s not like the Red Wings haven’t gotten better, too. Assuming Datsyuk and Draper will make an appearance in this series, the only players they’ve lost from last year’s team are Dallas Drake and Andreas Lilja. Lilja has been more than capably replaced by Jonathan Ericsson. Drake’s spot in the lineup has been taken by the aforementioned Hossa, who defected to the Red Wings over the summer.

Hossa is the key to this series, to me. The Penguins couldn’t beat the Red Wings last year when they had Hossa but now they’re expected to when not only do they not have him but Detroit does? On paper, the Penguins are toast.

Of course, the games aren’t played on paper. Cliche but true.

Detroit’s defense will be the other key. Ericsson plays on the Wings’ third defense pairing and could fight for a spot on the top pair of any of the teams the Penguins have eliminated thus far. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have torn it up against Kimmo Timonen and Mike Green and Tim Gleason but will that continue against Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall?

The Wings and Penguins split the regular season series this season, one game a defensive collapse by Detroit leading to a 7-6 Pittsburgh win, the other being a dominating defensive performance by the Red Wings in a 3-1 win.

That stresses to me the importance of defense in this series. If the Wings shut things down like they’ve done all but one game of these playoffs, they have the series. If it becomes a run-and-gun game then they lose their advantage and the Penguins have a chance.

Helm Scores in OT to Put Red Wings in Finals

Red Wings’ rookie forward Darren Helm scored 3:58 into overtime Wednesday night, lifting Detroit to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and putting the Wings into the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive year.

Detroit’s 4-1 series win over Chicago means the Red Wings move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who they defeated in a six-game series in last season’s Finals.

The game-winning goal came on a scramble in front of Chicago netminder Christobal Huet. Brett Lebda put a shot on net that Huet stopped but Tomas Holmstrom knocked the puck loose from the edge of the crease. Helm was free to bang the puck into the open net for his fourth career playoff goal.

Huet had been stellar all night, finishing the game with 44 saves on 46 Detroit chances, including a sprawling kick save on Johan Franzen in the closing seconds of regulation.

The Red Wings broke a scoreless tie 6:08 into the third period, with Dan Cleary deflecting a shot from Lebda past Huet.

Chicago tied things back up with 7:07 left in regulation on Patrick Kane‘s first goal of the series. Kane raced into the Detroit end down the right wing boards and lifted a backhander over the shoulder of Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood.

Osgood ended up with 30 saves on the night, including several on Colin Fraser, who made his first appearance of the series in place of the injured Martin Havlat.

In addition to missing Havlat, the Blackhawks were without starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

The Red Wings came into the game with a long list of injured players. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Tomas Kopecky and Andreas Lilja were joined by Jonathan Ericsson, who had an emergency appendectomy Wednesday morning.

Datsyuk, Lidstrom and Ericsson are expected to be in the lineup for Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Red Wings to Host Game One Against Penguins on Saturday

The National Hockey League has released the schedule for the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, featuring the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The series will open in Detroit with games on back-to-back nights, Saturday and Sunday of this week before shifting to Pittsburgh. It is the first time since 1955 that the Finals will see games on consecutive days.

The full schedule is as follows:

Game 1 – May 30 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM
Game 2 – May 31 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM
Game 3 – June 2 – @ Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM
Game 4 – June 4 – @ Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM
Game 5 – June 6 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM
Game 6 – June 9 – @ Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM
Game 7 – June 12 – @ Detroit – 8:00 PM

Lidstrom, Datsyuk Out for Game Five

The Detroit Red Wings will remain without captain Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Pavel Datsyuk for tonight’s Game Five against the Chicago Blackhawks. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock ruled the two players out after they missed the morning skate.

“I think they’re both getting closer,” said Babcock. “I’d like to think they’ll play the next time we play. I thought that today though.”

Both players, along with Kris Draper, also missed Game Four of the series. The Wings are expected to use the same lineup as they did in that game, with Justin Abdelkader and Chris Chelios playing.

The Blackhawks had goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin back on the ice for the morning skate after he missed Game Four. Martin Havlat did not skate with the team. He was injured in the past two games on hits by Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart.

Hossa, Zetterberg Lead Shorthanded Red Wings over Blackhawks

Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg each scored twice for the Red Wings Sunday afternoon, providing the scoring to lift a Detroit team that was missing many of its top players to a 6-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Red Wings now have a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Final matchup.

Detroit was without MVP finalist Pavel Datsyuk, Norris Trophy finalist Nicklas Lidstrom, and faceoff master Kris Draper, all lost to injury. They then lost goalie Chris Osgood to dehydration after the second period.

The Blackhawks were without injured goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and eventually lost Martin Havlat to a crushing hit for the second consecutive game.

Missing so many players, the Red Wings were already in a hole when Zetterberg was called for holding at 7:41 of the first period. Hossa and Valtteri Filppula turned the tables on the Chicago power play, though, breaking free on a two-on-one that saw Hossa convert to get Detroit on the board.

Johan Franzen snapped a shot from the right wing to the top corner of the net over Chicago netminder Christobal Huet’s shoulder with just 21 seconds left in the first to put the Wings up by a pair.

Filppula scored on Detroit’s second power play of the game, banging in a rebound at 1:13 of the second period to extend the lead.

Jonathan Toews got the Blackhawks on the board with a power play goal at 3:53 of the second, jamming home the rebound of a Cam Barker shot.

Chicago’s attempt at a rally would end just 12 seconds later when Hossa swept down the right wing and cut to the net, beating Huet once again.

Corey Crawford came into the ‘Hawks crease after Hossa’s second goal but the goalie change did little to stop the Wings, with Zetterberg roofing a shot into the top of the net on a five-on-three at 7:42.

Huet returned to the Chicago net to start the third period while Ty Conklin took over for Osgood.

Zetterberg added one more power play goal to round out the scoring with 7:13 left in the game.

Detroit went three-for-eight on the power play in a game that saw Chicago take 56 minutes worth of penalties. The ‘Hawks were one-for-four with the man-advantage.

Osgood made 18 saves on 19 shots against and Conklin stopped all nine shots he faced. Huet stopped 21 of 26 Detroit chances. Crawford had six saves on seven shots.

The Red Wings will look to close out the series on Wednesday in Game Five at Detroit.

It was the first career missed playoff game for Lidstrom, who mad made 228-straight postseason appearances.

Game Four: Red Wings – Blackhawks Pregame Notes

Injuries abound for both the Red Wings and the Blackhawks heading into Sunday’s Game Four in their Western Conference Final matchup.

Detroit will be without Kris Draper with a groin injury. Pavel Datsyuk, who missed Game Three with a foot injury, will be a game-time decision once again. Justin Abdelkader returns to the Wings’ lineup to replace Draper, unless Datsyuk is able to go. In that case Ville Leino will stay in the lineup while Abdelkader sits.

Chicago calls both Martin Havlat and Nikolai Khabibulin game-time decisions. Havlat left Game Three after being crushed by Niklas Kronwall, while Khabibulin was replaced for the third period by Christobal Huet after suffering an undisclosed lower-body injury.

‘Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell has essentially called for Kronwall’s head after the hit on Havlat, calling it gutless. Kronwall was not suspended for the play after being given a five-minute interference penalty and an ejection.

Thoughts on Kronwall’s Hit

I was going to do a typical recap of Friday’s loss to the Blackhawks but I realized that I care surprisingly little about it.

Maybe it’s because I wrote the game off early in the second period, after Chicago had been awarded the first eleven minutes of power play time. Five of those minutes were from the Niklas Kronwall interference major / ejection, which is what everyone will be talking about.

I don’t agree with the five-minute major call on the hit, not do I agree with the ejection. I think it differed from Mike Brown‘s hit on Jiri Hudler in the Anaheim series in two small but important ways.

#1 – Kronwall kept his arm down and Brown led with his forearm.

#2 – Brown came in late while Kronwall made his hit with the puck right in Havlat’s feet.

Like Mike Babcock, I’d be surprised if any supplementary discipline were handed out in this case. A precedent has been set, whether right or wrong.

Datsyuk a Game-Time Decision for Game Three

Pavel Datsyuk‘s status for tonight’s Game Three between the Red Wings and Blackhawks remains uncertain. He has not practiced since blocking a shot with his foot in Game Two.

Should Datsyuk be unable to play, Ville Leino will make his first appearance of the postseason.

The Wings are already making one lineup change, bringing in Kirk Maltby to replace Justin Abdelkader.

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