Wow! Did the Ducks know what time the game started? I realize it is a seven game series, but they responded to the first period like it was a regular season game? There was very little real pressure throughout the game and it looked to me like they could care less to be there...just like their fans! Their one shining moment was the hit on Holmstrom. I hate the fact that he got injured on the play...but I really enjoyed the double whammy!* Obviously a reaction to the fact that he and Bertuzzi were killing them! Todd had his best game of the year. He drew two penalties (one leading to the last minute goal in the first), scored a goal, and was an immovable object in front of the net. He also has some crunching hits...definitely the Bertuzzi of old tonight. On that note, the entire Red Wings team set the physical tone. They were laying out some monstrous hits right out of the gate and did not stop until the end. What in the world happened to Getzlaf, Perry, and Penner? I did not notice them much tonight, if at all on the same line...I cannot imagine why Carlyle would break them up? Selanne had a few moments but I think they really miss Kunitz. The Duck's defense was poor tonight...even Scott Niedermayer lost his jock strap on Holmstrom's second goal. Don't get me wrong...I am in no way writing off the Ducks...this series will likely go seven games; but the truth is, Anaheim was lucky to get out of Detroit 1-1. They better start playing like the team that advanced to the conference finals in only ten games, or they will be headed to their second, consecutive third-round loss.
One word to describe the Senators/Sabres contest...ALFREDSSON! Any criticism he has faced the last few years has been wiped completely clean after this year's performance...and they still have some hockey to play. As I stated in an earlier blog, he has carried his team on his back. He has goals in all three games, including the winner in game three...and nine total tallies in 13 playoff games, which leads the league. He has been a hound dog on the penalty kill and has willingly thrown his body around. The captain has been incredible and could very well lead the Sens right past either team in the west. I am not sure what has happened to the Sabres...but they have certainly lost an edge. If they have any chance whatsoever to extend this series, they better find the net. There have been a lot of posts and unlucky bounces...but the chances have been there. Emery has been okay but not brilliant...he simply has not had to be. Miller has been the better goalie in this match-up but that means zilch compared to Emery's three wins. Drury and Briere need to step up this game just like Alfredsson has so far. They need to score the goals and dish out some hits. If they do not pull it together in game four, they will find themselves in the same predicament as the Ducks...losing their second, consecutive conference finals.
How about some irony...
(1) Two teams have played only 13 games...Anaheim and Ottawa...only one is prospering.
(2) Two teams are in their second, consecutive conference finals...both are behind in the series...both look frazzled. Could it possibly be a mental issue stemming from last year's failures?
(3) Of the four teams left, all but one are on my "hated teams" list...the one that isn't, Buffalo, is already on the verge of elimination. Go figure!
I love this game!
Ottawa wraps this up in 4, at home, led by their captain...4-2 (empty-netter)
Detroit in 6...Anaheim wins game 4, barely...and Detroit takes the next two
Senators in 6...Hasek and Emery will be non-factors...there will be much scoring in these games...Hasek cannot handle high-scoring affairs so the Sens are my pick! Don't worry, we will bring the Cup back to the States next year...and specifically...right back to Dallas, Texas!
*For the record, it was definitely a 5-minute major penalty, if not two of them...I am not condoning the high hits. As a Stars fan though, it is nice to see him on the other end of the beating!