Abdelkader Replaces Kopecky in Game Five Lineup

Early news on Sunday’s Game Five… Justin Abdelkader will replace Tomas Kopecky in the Detroit lineup.

Kopecky is out after taking a hard punch in his fight with Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin in Game Four.

The News has Mike Babcock‘s reasoning for going with Abdelkader over Ville Leino or Aaron Downey. All three forwards were called up after the Grand Rapids Griffins were eliminated from the playoffs, along with defenseman Jakub Kindl and goalie Jimmy Howard.

“Because he’ll run over people,” Babcock said of Abdelkader. “We expect him to play hard like (Darren) Helm. He’s on the forecheck and he’s a physical guy. He scored 23 goals for them (Grand Rapids) this season and was one of their best players in the playoffs.”

Brian Rafalski and Kris Draper are doubtful for the game. No word from the Ducks on the status of James Wisniewski.

Franzen, Hossa Each Score Twice as Red Wings Defeat Ducks

Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa each scored two goals Thursday night, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks and evening their Western Conference Semifinal series at two games apiece.

Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg also scored for the Red Wings.

Franzen’s goals both came in the first period.

With 8:11 left in the frame, Franzen took a drop pass from Valtteri Filppula and snapped a shot from the high slot past Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller, tying the game.

Franzen gave the Wings the lead with 36 seconds left in the first, tipping a Niklas Kronwall shot from the point past Hiller.

Corey Perry scored the Ducks’ first two goals, matching Franzen to have the game tied with 8:57 left in the second period.

Perry’s first came just 42 seconds into the game, taking a stretch pass from Chris Pronger during a bad change by the Detroit defense and snapping a shot past netminder Chris Osgood.

Perry tied the game on a bit of a broken play, as Ryan Getzlaf gained the zone while fighting of both Jonathan Ericsson and Nicklas Lidstrom, dropping the puck to Perry for a long blast.

Marian Hossa broke the tie and scored the eventual game-winner in a 3:02 span late in the second.

Hossa put a wrister from the right faceoff circle past Hiller with 3:58 left in the period, then beat him with a power play slap shot with 56 seconds left.

Samuelsson found the top corner on Hiller on a rush at 2:46 of the third.

Scott Niedermayer scored a power play goal with 9:57 left in regulation, pulling the Ducks to back within a pair, but Zetterberg’s empty-net goal with 2:33 remaining finished off the scoring.

Each team finished the night with a power play goal. The Red Wings had five power play tries while the Ducks had three, though two of those for each team were short.

Osgood made 25 saves on 28 shots against. Hiller stopped 28 of 33 Detroit chances before being pulled after Samuelsson’s goal. Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all six shots that came his way in relief.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday as the series shifts back to Detroit for Game Five.

The Red Wings were once again without Brian Rafalski and Kris Draper… The Ducks were without James Wisniewski, who was injured while taking a puck to the chest in Game Three.

Game Four Pregame Notes

We’ve got about as much of a “must-win” as possible without being an elimination game on our hands tonight. A Detroit win brings the Red Wings back home tied in the series and with home-ice restored. A loss and they need three wins in a row to stay alive.

Even after getting a supremely lucky call to save them from overtime, the Ducks are still complaining about how evil and dirty the Red Wings are. Yawn.

Anaheim will be without defenseman James Wisniewski. Brett Festerling takes his spot on the Ducks’ blueline.

The Wings remain without Brian Rafalski and Kris Draper, who are pretty much gonna be cruxified if this season doesn’t end well and it turns out their injuries weren’t serious.

The game’s on Versus after the ‘Hawks and Canucks, which has just about no chance of ending before 10:30 so no one has any idea what will happen for those of us who don’t give a damn about that series.

Babcock: “Tonight we got hosed for sure”

No recap for tonight’s game. I feel no need to bother with the way that ended. I just want to post two quotes from Mike Babcock‘s postgame interview and a handful of thoughts of my own.

“We should be in overtime right now. We got two and they got two but we’re not playing.”

“Tonight we got hosed for sure.”

Babcock’s words to FSN Detroit’s John Keating. Unlike his counterpart from the Ducks, that is probably the most complaining Babcock will do.

Of course, it’s easy to say that had the Red Wings shown up for the first 30 minutes of the game, that last goal wouldn’t have mattered. And that should be said.

It should also be said that the game is sixty minutes long. If you happen to blow the first 30 of it you’re supposed to have 30 more to make a turnaround. The Wings made their turnaround. They tied the game up but were not allowed to continue for a reason that has nothing to do with their play. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

Thoughts on the Non-Goal

Running on about four hours of sleep, we’ll see how today goes. In the meantime, here’s another thought about the non-goal at the end of last night’s game.

I have no problem with the “play is dead when the ref decides it is, not when he actually blows the whistle” rule. There is a human action required to blow play dead and that action takes a second. It feels like there should be a better way but right now there isn’t so for the most part this rule works.

My issue is with when referee Brad Watson decided to blow play dead.

While the letter of the law is that the ref has to blow play dead when he loses sight of the puck, that’s not what actually happens. There are hundreds of times throughout the game where a ref loses sight of the puck. He gets spun around trying to get out of the way of the play, a player steps in front of him, or something as simple as blinking. When that happens, the ref can reasonably assume the puck is still playable and that he’ll quickly regain sight of it.

My problem with the non-goal is that the same reasonable assumption should have applied to it. Watson was out of position because the play happened fast. Not faulting him there. He knew he was out of position, as seen by how he raced to get back to his spot behind the net. Before he got there, while Jonas Hiller‘s body was blocking his view of the puck, Watson decided that he could no longer reasonably assume the puck was playable.

He gave Hiller the benefit of the doubt and a quick whistle. He consciously decided that it was unreasonable to assume that the puck was free. He guessed that Hiller had it covered.

Watson guessed wrong and it cost the Wings the tying goal. That’s my issue with what happened.

Rafalski, Draper to Remain Out for Game Three

Thanks to being a West Coast game, tomorrow’s Game Three doesn’t kick off for another 27+ hours but we’ve already got bad news for the Red Wings.

Brian Rafalski and Kris Draper have both made the trip to Anaheim but neither will play in the third contest of the series. Both are dealing with unspecified upper-body injuries.

Detroit will use the same lineup as was used in the first two games of the series.

Belated Postgame Thoughts on Game Two

You know, I really was going to do a formal write-up of Game Two but now that I finally have time I feel like it’s a bit too late. Instead, here are a few of my thoughts on the game…

The Red Wings didn’t seem awake for the first two periods. They played much better from the third period on through overtime but had they played like that in the openeing forty minutes the extra time wouldn’t have been necessary.

If Detroit’s first line ever gets to scoring, Anaheim will be in trouble. It feels like Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa are still feeling out the Ducks, which I don’t quite understand.

Chris Osgood played another strong game. No one should be pinning this loss on him.

The Wings’ depth showed in OT. The Ducks were using their top guys a lot in the extra periods while Mike Babcock wasn’t afraid to throw Darren Helm out there. Helm played a fantastic game with what time he was given. Of course, that depth didn’t matter, as it was Anaheim’s little-used players that forced the goal.

I’m still really unhappy with the game-winning goal. Niklas Kronwall caught up ice. Todd Marchant allowed to carry the puck in untouched while forwards covered for Kronwall. Just an absolute breakdown.

It feels like something happens to the Wings’ shooters in overtime, going back to last season’s playoffs. Like they try to be too pretty or too conservative. Sometimes you just need a blast from the blue line, just ask Steve Yzerman and Jon Casey. And in all honesty, the game-winner Sunday looked a bit like that, deceptively quick and sneaking in over the goalie’s shoulder. Too bad it came for the wrong team.

Rafalski Rests, Brown Back, Carlyle Complaining

Kicking off Game Two discussion early ’cause we’ve already got a bunch of news.

The Detroit Red Wings will remain without the services of defenseman Brian Rafalski, out with an upper-body injury. He also missed Game One. It looks like Chris Chelios will continue to play on the third defensive pairing but the Red Wings pretty much rotated five defensemen in the first game of the series anyway so he’ll likely see limited use.

Mike Brown will be back in the Anaheim Ducks lineup, having escaped without a suspension after his hit on Jiri Hudler in Game One. I said after the game that I didn’t expect him to be suspended but it’s still frustrating to see the NHL be so inconsistent on the matter.

Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle says the Brown hit was clean and that it was the Red Wings who were playing dirty. He says that Niklas Kronwall should have been suspended for a hit on Ryan Carter but conveniently failed to produce video evidence of the infraction. Of course, I can’t imagine how hard Kronwall must have hit Carter for Carlyle to think it was suspension-worthy but Brown’s hit wasn’t.

Oh, yeah, a little-known NHL rule says only the big, strong Canadian boys are allowed to hit, so it’s automatically an offense if Kronwall kicks some ass.

Game Two, Sunday afternoon, NBC. Kill me now.

Lidstrom Scores Twice as Red Wings Take Game One Against Ducks

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom scored two goals Friday night, leading the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks in the first game of their Western Conference Semifinal matchup.

Lidstrom’s second goal was the game-winner, scored with just 49.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

Corey Perry opened the game’s scoring, putting the Red Wings behind for the first time this playoff year. At 7:28 of the first period he blasted a shot from the top of the left circle past Detroit goalie Chris Osgood after being left uncovered on a defensive miscue.

A five-minute power play gave the Red Wings a chance to even things up. Mike Brown was given an interference major and a game misconduct for a late hit to the head of Jiri Hudler with 8:31 left in the period.

Johan Franzen drove to the net and shoved the puck past Jonas Hiller just 1:04 later, the only goal of the five-minute advantage.

Lidstrom put Detroit back in front with 5:36 left in the second period, scoring his first goal of the night on a power play slap shot from the top of the left circle.

Teemu Selanne tied things up with just 17 seconds left in the middle frame, converting on a rare four-on-three manpower advantage with a snap shot from near the left faceoff dot.

The teams traded scoring chances in the third, including a breakaway by Franzen 2:20 in and a close-in chance by Selanne just after the five-minute mark.

Lidstrom broke the tie by redirecting a Dan Cleary pass on net from the high slot. He then jumped down low to pick up the rebound and put it back between Hiller’s pads.

Hiller finished the night with 34 saves on 37 shots against. Osgood stopped 22 of 24 Anaheim chances.

The Red Wings finished the night two-for-six on the power play. The Ducks went one-for-three.

Game Two of the series is Saturday afternoon from Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings were without Kris Draper for the fifth-straight playoff game. They were also missing Brian Rafalski, who missed his first game of the playoffs with an upper-body injury… It was the second consecutive game that Detroit won with a goal in the closing minute of regulation… Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and Anaheim forward Corey Perry fought at 4:12 of the second period.

Rafalski Out for Game One

The Detroit Red Wings will be without defenseman Brian Rafalski as they open their second-round series against the Anaheim Ducks tonight. He is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Jonathan Ericsson moved up to the first defensive pairing with Nicklas Lidstrom, with Chris Chelios coming into the lineup to take Ericsson’s spot on the third pair with Brett Lebda. The second pair remains Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart.

The Red Wings will also be without Kris Draper, who missed the entire first round and has been ruled out of the first two games against Anaheim with an upper-body injury.

Dan Cleary did not take the morning skate but will play tonight. Andreas Lilja skated but has no timetable for a return.

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