Tempting Fate

In spite of a late rally after Tomas Holmstrom finally cracked the armor of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, in spite of outshooting the Mighty Ducks once again, in spite of the huge amounts of ice time logged by Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and Steve Yzerman, the Ducks took a 2-1 win in their first home game and now lead the quarterfinal series 3-0.

The game started off well for the Red Wings. The Grind Line played well, with Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, and Kris Draper taking it in turns to post themselves in front of the net to screen Giguere and try to grab up stray rebounds or redirect shots on the way through. Curtis Joseph made two big saves early against Steve Rucchin. The Red Wings even got the first power play of the game late in the first. Brendan Shanahan had a good chance to score from his customary spot at the left faceoff circle. He had beaten Giguere, but the puck clanged off the crossbar.

A turnover at the blue line let the Ducks open the scoring early in the second period. Stanislav Chistov barely managed to drag the puck around Dmitri Bykov, but got the pass away to Samuel Pahlsson. Pahlsson took a quick shot which rattled into the net.

Mathieu Dandenault thought he had evened the game up with a long shot from the blue line just a minute later, but the play was whistled down because Detroit had had too many men on the ice. Shanahan and Steve Yzerman had a good chance to score shorthanded on the resulting penalty, but Shanahan’s shot was just low enough that Giguere could catch it in his glove.

The Red Wings certainly had their chances to score, but again Giguere played an excellent game, and his defensemen picked off most rebounds before Detroit could get to them.

The Ducks increased their lead early in the third period. Joseph came out of the net to clear the puck away, but his pass bounced off the leg of Chris Chelios and back to Chistov. Joseph scrambled to get back, and Henrik Zetterberg scrambled to help him cover the empty parts of the net, but Chistov put the puck off Zetterberg’s skate and into the net.

Pahlsson took a penalty for holding the stick of Luc Robitaille (and thus denying Robitaille a strong scoring chance) at 6:22, and the Red Wings finally got on the board within six seconds. Holmstrom went to the front of the net, got shoved around as usual, and was rewarded with the rebound from Lidstrom’s shot. He lifted the puck up and over Giguere, making it a one-shot game.

The Red Wings scrambled after that, trying to beat the solid goaltender one more time. They pulled Joseph from the net for an extra attacker with just over a minute left to play, but Giguere was able to control all his rebounds, and the Red Wings finally just ran out of time.

The count of shots on net was 37-26 favoring Detroit. The best-of-seven series will continue Wednesday night from Anaheim.

Everybody Off the Bandwagon – Now We See Who the Real Fans Are

What remains is not for the faint of heart. It will take people with great dedication to stand by the Red Wings as they face a great threat to their defense of the Stanley Cup.

It’s easy to be a fan when the Red Wings are holding championship parades and signing big-name free agents; when they’re on incredible winning streaks; when they’re dominating the league.

Are you still loudly chanting, “Let’s go Red Wings!”?

Or are you now saying, “They never should have signed Joseph,” traded for Schneider, hired Dave Lewis. “They should be more like the Stars,” Avalanche, Senators, Flyers.

“They should rebuild, this team isn’t good enough.”

“Wait until next year.”

Next year, you might not be a Wings fan, so you might as well quit now. The real fans will be the ones who suffer the agony of defeat or the joy of victory.

At this point, we don’t need people who aren’t completely behind the team. Get off the bandwagon, it’s real fans only from here on out.