Lidstrom, Lewis Named All-Stars

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and head coach Dave Lewis will be a part of the NHL’s Western Conference All-Star team again this season. Lidstrom was named a starting defenseman and Lewis was named the team’s head coach when starting lineups were announced Thursday night.

It is the sixth-straight season that Lidstrom has been named a starting defenseman in the All-Star Game. From 1998 to 2002 he was named to the World All-Star team. Last season he was a member of the Western Conference All-Stars.

Starters for the two teams are determined by fan voting conducted at NHL arenas and online through Lidstrom finished third in Western Conference voting with 90,995 votes. He was behind only Vancouver Canucks winger Todd Bertuzzi and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake.

Lewis was named to the Western Conference coaching staff for the second year in a row. Last year he served as the team’s assistant coach. The head coaches of the two teams that had the highest percentage of possible points through Thursday night’s games are named All-Star coaches. Colorado’s loss Thursday night moved Lewis (.648) ahead of Tony Granato (.638).

The final All-Star rosters will be announced on January 22. The All-Star Game will take place on February 8 from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Spring Comes To Hockeytown

Sure, there are still patches of snow and ice on the ground, and sure, the fans walking from the parking garage to Joe Louis Arena had leftover salt crunching beneath their feet. But it was 50 degrees and sunny, the red and white jerseys were visible instead of hidden under heavy coats, the Captain was in the lineup, and there are now only eleven (that’s ELEVEN) games left before the playoffs! Better yet, the Colorado Avalanche left Hockeytown Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 loss added to their record.

The scoring was opened early in the game by Pavel Datsyuk. Henrik Zetterberg made a tight pass to his linemate, and Datsyuk flipped it into the net past Patrick Roy.

The Avalanche struck twice before the first period was over to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room for the first intermission. The first goal came shorthanded, as Greg DeVries sprung Steven Reinprecht on a breakaway. Reinprecht went in all alone on Curtis Joseph and fooled the Detroit goalie with a move to the right before putting the puck in high.

Rob Blake‘s goal came on a power play. He took a pass from Joe Sakic, then shot from the blue line. Joseph was screened and never saw the puck on its way through.

The second period started with an entirely different feeling to it. Detroit was completely dominant, and Colorado didn’t have much of a chance. The Wings outshot the Avalanche 15 to 4 in the second twenty minutes of play. Roy stopped 12 of the shots, but the shots from Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, and Igor Larionov were too much for him to handle.

“Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick! Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick!” taunted the fans at the Joe, as Shanahan stuffed a pass by Fedorov into the net, as Fedorov scored on a feed by Steve Yzerman, and as Larionov turned a pass by Luc Robitaille into the eventual game-winning goal. “Paaaaaaaa-triiiiiiiiiiick!”

Brett Hull didn’t want to be left out of the fun. He scored his 30th goal of the season, the 709th of his career, on an excellent give-and-go passing play with Datsyuk early in the third period. Datsyuk rushed up left and passed to Hull on the right. Hull passed it back to Datsyuk. Roy slid to his right, thinking that Hull’s angle to the net negated him as a threat. Datsyuk passed back anyway, and Hull scored into the empty side of the net at such a tight angle that he couldn’t have had a space any wider than the puck itself to shoot at.

Even Roy was impressed by the goal. “Let’s give them credit for that play,” he said. “He made a great pass to (Datsyuk) and he made a super pass back to (Hull), and he tapped it in. That’s one we’ll see the highlights of a lot.” Hull, characteristically, seemed prouder of his young linemate than of his own accomplishment. “That’s the way you’re supposed to play,” he beamed. “Pass the puck, and get it back.”

Derek Morris did score a power play goal for Colorado before the game was over. The Red Wings played a passing game of “keep-away” with the puck as the game wound down, causing the Avalanche to have to keep Roy in goal instead of pulling him for an extra skater. They did finally get puck control and pull their goalie out in the final minute, but Joseph was ready with some excellent saves to keep the win and tie the regular-season-series between these two teams at 2-2.

The final count of shots on net was 38-24 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings’ next opponent is the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators. The teams will square off Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Hull’s goal propelled him past Mike Gartner into sole possession of the fifth place on the all-time goal scorers list…. Peter Forsberg left the game with a bruised leg after a collision with Dmitri Bykov at center ice. Bykov was uninjured.

Avs Acquire Defenseman Marchment

The deals continue as the NHL’s March 11 trade deadline approaches.

The Colorado Avalanche shored up their defensive corps on Saturday night, acquiring Bryan Marchment from the San Jose Sharks for two draft picks in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

Marchment, known for his physical play that borders on illegal, is most likely only being rented for the playoff run. He will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“I don’t think there was any way we were going to be able to sign him (this summer), so I guess he was the classic rental player at this point,” San Jose general manager Dean Lombardi said.

This is the second major trade the Sharks have made in the last week. Captain Owen Nolan was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

San Jose is also rumored to be shopping forwards Teemu Selanne and Vincent Damphousse.

This is the fourth season in a row that Colorado general manager Pierre Lacroix has dealt for a defenseman at the trade deadline. In 2000 he acquired Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins, in 2001 it was Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings, and last season he brought in Darius Kasparaitis from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Marchment has scored two goals and nine assists for eleven points this season with San Jose. He also has 108 penalty minutes in sixty-seven games.

One Goal Enough to Lift Avs over Wings

A lone first period goal by Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay was enough to give Colorado the win over Detroit Thursday in the first game of a home-and-home series between the bitter rivals.

Tanguay one-timed a bouncing puck past a scrambling Curtis Joseph with 2:10 left in the opening period. Rob Blake fired a shot that bounced off the back boards and out the other side of the goal, where Tanguay picked up the puck and flipped it into the net as Joseph dove across the crease.

The first period tally was the only goal of the game.

The blanking of Detroit was Colorado netminder Patrick Roy‘s sixty-fourth career shutout. He is now tied with Toronto goalie Ed Belfour for the lead among active goaltenders.

It was the third shutout for Roy in his last six games and the first time he had kept the Red Wings scoreless in his career.

“He’s been great,” Avalanche head coach Tony Granato said. “He’s a man on a mission to prove he’s the best; still the best.”

Brett Hull was held scoreless for the sixth-straight game. His next goal will be the seven hundredth of his career… Chris Chelios missed his sixth-straight game with a leg injury.

Avs Acquire Morris

The Colorado Avalanche boosted their defense Tuesday, acquiring young defenseman Derek Morris from the Calgary Flames in a multiplayer deal involving clutch performer Chris Drury.

The Avalanche sent Drury and fellow forward Stephane Yelle to the Flames for Morris and veteran forwards Jeff Shantz and Dean McAmmond.

Morris was Calgary’s highest-scoring defenseman with thirty assists and a total of thirty-four points in only sixty-one games.

Drury scored twenty-one goals and notched twenty-five assists for the Avalanche last season. He had three game-winning goals in Colorado’s playoff run. Yelle had five goals and twelve assists.

Shantz played only forty games last season due to injury. He started his ten-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks and was traded to Calgary in 1998.

McAmmond joins his fifth NHL team, having played for Edmonton, Chicago and Philadelphia before joining Calgary last season. His twenty-one goals and thirty assists were good for third in Flames’ team scoring.

Morris will fill the void in the Avalanche defense left by the departure of Darius Kasparaitis, who signed this summer with the New York Rangers. He joins Rob Blake and Adam Foote as the strength of the Colorado blue line.

Colorado defenseman Lance Pitlick announced his retirement today.

Lidstrom Claims More Hardware

Nicklas Lidstrom added to his hardware collection last night, claiming his second consecutive Norris Trophy at the NHL’s annual awards show.

Lidstrom becomes the first player since Raymond Bourque to repeat as a Norris Trophy winner. He beat out teammate Chris Chelios and Colorado’s Rob Blake, both previous winners.

“Just to be chosen as top three — I love it,” said Chelios, a three-time Norris Trophy winner.

Retiring Detroit coach and Norris Trophy presenter Scotty Bowman called the award the toughest trophy to win.

“This is really something special for me,” Lidstrom said.

Lidstrom plays against opponents’ top lines game in and game out, plays on special-teams units, and sees about thirty minutes of ice time a game.

“Nick is so good,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He has given us a high level of performance over an extended period of time.”

Lidstrom and Chelios are the first teammates to finish one-two in Norris Trophy voting… The Red Wings declined their team option on defenseman Steve Duchesne, he has until next Thursday to accept his player option for one year at $1 million.

On to the Finals!

For the past two days, ever since the Red Wings kept their playoff hopes alive by winning Game Six, the Detroit media has been full of playoff cliches. “It’s a do or die situation.” “The first goal will be huge.” “The Red Wings need to play to win.” Fans took up time at work discussing hockey?perfect strangers started talking hockey while waiting in line at the grocery store or in dentists’ waiting rooms. Anxiety? Yes. Anticipation? Yes. Excitement? Oh, yes.

The fans and media need not have worried. Game Seven was a dream game, the game we all imagined but never dared to give voice to, a stunning 7-0 victory to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals and give the Colorado Avalanche a sendoff to their summer vacation.

The Red Wings came out fighting, and the first goal WAS huge, as well as early and from a not-so-expected, but highly deserving source. Igor Larionov won a faceoff in Colorado’s zone and got the puck back to Luc Robitaille. Robitaille passed back to Steve Duchesne at the left point. Duchesne fired towards the net, and Tomas Holmstrom tipped it as he was being shoved to the ice. The puck redirected between the legs of Greg Devries and past Patrick Roy for the all-important first goal.

Second shot, second goal. The Red Wings continued to control. Steve Yzerman passed the puck to Sergei Fedorov at the blue line. Fedorov carried it in up the left wing side. His hard shot deflected off the stick of Rob Blake, off Roy’s blocker, and into the net.

What next? Keep right on going. After the Wings very neatly killed off an obstruction interference penalty to Freddy Olausson, Robitaille increased the lead by one more. He carried the puck into the zone and passed it to Larionov behind the net. Larionov skated towards the blue line, but gave the puck back to Robitaille on the way. Robitaille’s patient shot slid through Roy’s five-hole for a 3-0 game.

Holmstrom scored again before the end of the first period. Robitaille carried the puck into the zone, splitting between two defensemen. Roy came out of the crease to block the shot, but the rebound angled out to where Holmstrom was coming up with speed to flip it into the net and set a new record?Patrick Roy had never before given up more than three goals in one period.

The Wings started patiently in the second. Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios paired up to start, to keep the Avalanche from scoring an early goal and possibly gaining momentum. Colorado did try to pressure, but Hasek was huge in net again, and the Wings again scored early. Boyd Devereaux fought for the puck behind the net, then put the centering pass out front for Brett Hull. Hull looked toward Roy’s far side, lured him away from the goalpost, and then whipped the puck into the space Roy had vacated.

It took the sixth Detroit goal, a power play goal by Olausson from a splendid cross-crease pass by Yzerman, to chase Roy from the net. Backup goalie David Aebischer came in to take his place. The fans filling the Joe let Roy know that he was not forgotten: “We want Roy!” they taunted.

Colorado started the third period slowly, without nearly as much pressure as they are normally capable of. The Red Wings managed to shut them down for the most part, sending in only one forechecker and playing strongly in the neutral zone to prevent any turnovers or careless play. When the Avalanche did break through, Hasek was ready for them.

The Avalanche did think they had ruined Hasek’s shutout when Chris Drury put the puck in the net with 7:10 remaining, but video review showed that Drury had kicked it in, and the goal was disallowed.

Finally, Pavel Datsyuk put the icing on the victory cake during a Red Wing power play with 3:51 remaining. Duchesne passed to Hull from the left point to the left half boards, and Hull angled a pass across to Datsyuk on the right side. Datsyuk’s shot deflected off the stick of Darius Kasparaitis, off Aebischer’s arm, and into the net. The time ran down, the buzzer sounded, and the fans screamed for their team, the new Western Conference Champions. The Clarence Campbell Bowl, the award for Western Conference victory, was presented, and Steve Yzerman accepted it graciously, showing it off to the fans before putting it carefully away. The Campbell Bowl is nice, but ultimately not important. A bigger trophy is calling.

The Avalanche go home. The Red Wings advance. They will meet their opponent, the surprising Carolina Hurricanes, for Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, on Tuesday evening at Joe Louis Arena.

Dominik Hasek posts a new NHL record tonight. Never before has a goalie earned more than five shutouts in a single postseason. And just think, he has at least four more chances!?. This was the most lopsided playoff victory since the NHL expanded in 1967.

An Even Match

The Red Wings dominated the better part of Game Four, just as they had done in Game Three. Unfortunately, this time Patrick Roy was the goalie of the hour, and Dominik Hasek was not. Detroit lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche, leaving the Western Conference Final tied at two games apiece.

The Wings placed great offensive pressure on Colorado early, but as in each of the games this series, the Avalanche opened the scoring 7:50 into the game. Rob Blake got the puck past Sergei Fedorov, whose stick had been broken. Blake, fanned on the shot, but Steve Reinprecht eluded the Red Wing defenders and flipped it high into Hasek’s net.

The Red Wings have become accustomed to playing from behind in this series, and they didn’t let the goal throw them. They instead calmed the play down and took control, waiting for Colorado’s goal momentum to dwindle away. Then they took their chance to score, which, ironically, was in a shorthanded situation.

Kirk Maltby was sitting in the penalty box waiting off a call for holding the stick. The Wings played a strong penalty kill, and repeatedly sent the puck down the ice for the Avalanche to chase. Peter Forsberg attempted to send it into the Red Wings’ zone, but instead it bounced off of Fedorov and out past the blue line, and Fedorov was away with all his great speed, going in all alone against Roy. He deked and sent off a quick shot from point-blank range, and the puck slid right between Roy’s legs.

Unfortunately for the Wings, the Avalanche regained the lead early in the third period. Detroit had cleared the puck from their zone, but not by much, and Greg DeVries flipped it back in onside. It went straight to Joe Sakic, streaking up center, and his hard wrist shot beat Hasek cleanly and gave the Avalanche back their game momentum.

The Avalanche went on to take their first two-goal lead of the series late in the third. Forsberg, Reinprecht, and Chris Drury got away on a three-on-two rush. Forsberg made a centering pass through the air, and Drury got enough of his stick on it to redirect it into Hasek’s net.

The Red Wings did not sit back and wait for the game to be over, even though it was late and they were trailing by two; they pulled their goalie and sent six skaters out to harass Roy. Brett Hull turned a quick wrist shot into a goal on a nice feed from Tomas Holmstrom behind the net, but there were only three seconds remaining, the faceoff came back to center ice, and the game ended 3-2.

The Red Wings outshot the Avalanche thirty-three to twenty-two. Ten of Colorado’s shots came in the third period. Neither team scored a power play goal.

Game Five of the series will be back in Detroit on Monday evening.

Igor Larionov made his return to the lineup today, after sitting out with a sprained knee. Rookie Jason Williams was left out of the game to make room for Larionov…. Sergei Fedorov led the Red Wings with a game-high eight shots on net….. Maybe Brett Hull’s late goal will give Patrick Roy something to think about on the plane ride back to Hockeytown?

The Staring Contest

The two previous games of the Western Conference were remarkably high-scoring, considering that each team has a highly touted world-class goaltender. Game Three was the goaltending showdown that the media and fans have been looking for. The game was tied at one goal apiece as the overtime started. Patrick Roy finally blinked, and the Red Wings took a 2-1 victory to gain a 2-1 lead in the series.

The low scoring should not be completely attributed to goaltending. The Red Wings tightened down and kept better control of the game. Scotty Bowman shook up the lines a little by moving Jason Williams up to center a line with Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, and putting Sergei Fedorov in between Luc Robitaille and Tomas Holmstrom. He also changed the defense slightly by making sure that Jiri Fischer and Chris Chelios would square off against Joe Sakic’s line instead of Peter Forsberg‘s line.

The “Grind Line” of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty played superbly, keeping Colorado’s first line penned in their own end for much of their ice time in the first period. The Red Wings also played a more disciplined game?this time they did not take an early penalty. The Avalanche took the first penalty, an interference call on Rob Blake, but they played a frantic penalty kill which kept the Red Wings from setting up a quality scoring play.

Draper took an interference call for the Wings a few minutes later, and the Avalanche put their power play to good use. Sakic shot the puck from the blue line, and Rob Blake tipped the puck in front of the net. It deflected up and over Dominik Hasek‘s shoulder to give the Avalanche the lead.

The second period was played more tightly by both teams. The Red Wings shook off Blake’s goal and continued to control. The defense took a more active role in trying to score, and Hasek made the big saves when he was called upon.

Detroit’s patience finally paid off 5:50 into the third period. Sergei Fedorov shot the puck from the left wing side. The rebound got away from Roy and bounced off of Greg DeVries, then off the toe of Luc Robitaille’s skate, and into the empty side of the net.

Play continued tightly until the overtime period. Then the teams unleashed their offense, and the goalies showed why they have both been considered the “greatest goalie in the world”. Hasek was especially careful to stop a breakaway shot by Chris Drury, the overtime goal scorer from Game Two. Finally, during four-on-four play resulting from offsetting minor penalties to McCarty and Adam Foote, the Red Wings put the puck past Roy.

Hasek cleared the puck up to Yzerman, who passed across to Freddy Olausson flying up center ice. Olausson fired the puck just as he gained the blue line. Roy was partially screened by one of his defensemen Marty Skoula, and could not even see the puck until it was in his net.

Detroit dominated the game in terms of shots on net; they led forty-two to twenty-one. Game Four of the Western Conference Final will be Saturday afternoon in Denver.

This is the first time this year that the Avalanche have allowed more than forty shots on net in a post-season game…. Freddy Olausson’s goal was his first playoff goal in over ten years.

Kasparaitis Colorado-Bound

Darius Kasparaitis, the gritty, oft-penalized defenseman rumored to be heading to Detroit at the NHL trade deadline, has been traded to the Colorado Avalanche in return for forward Ville Nieminen and defenseman Rick Berry.

This is the third time in as many seasons that the Avalanche have made a deadline deal for a defenseman. Last year they aquired Rob Blake from the Los Angeles Kings. In 2000, Ray Bourque was sent to Colorado after spending over twenty years with the Boston Bruins.

Kasparaitis, twenty-nine, has two goals and twelve assists in sixty-nine games this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s racked up 123 penalty minutes and has a minus-one plus/minus rating.

Nieminen, twenty-four, has twelve goals and sixteen assists in his sophomore season with the Avalanche. He was drafted seventy-eighth overall by Colorado in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Berry, twenty-three and also in his sophomore NHL season, has no points and is a plus-one in fifty-seven game with the Avalanche. He was Colorado’s third choice, fifty-fifth overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Detroit’s offer to the Penguins is rumored to have been speedy defenseman / right wing Mathieu Dandenault and an another unnamed young player.

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