Three Questions: Wings-Blackhawks
DRW.com analyzes Game 4 of the Western Conference Final
With a big win in Game 3, it seemed as though the series momentum was starting to shift back to the Blackhawks’ side. It didn’t help the Wings’ cause that they were still without star forward Pavel Datsyuk for Game 4. Then even worse news came out, as captain Nicklas Lidstrom was a surprise scratch for Sunday’s game. After an overtime loss and losing arguably their two best players, it seemed that the Wings would have a tough time in Game 4 on the road.
Then the game actually started, and it was all Red Wings for 60 minutes. The Wings took the first penalty of the game, with Henrik Zetterberg going for holding at the 7:41 mark. But the Wings, not the Blackhawks, scored during the two minutes, as Marian Hossa beat goaltender Cristobal Huet shorthanded. The Wings added a goal from Johan Franzen with 21 seconds left in the first, which seemed to be the backbreaking tally for the ‘Hawks.
Three second-period goals but the game out of reach for the Wings, and they coasted to a 6-1 victory. The Wings rattled the Hawks, forcing them to take 16 penalties throughout the contest, including two 10-minute misconducts, and a game misconduct for Ben Eager. The Wings also chased goaltender Huet from the net during the second period, as the Hawks put in untested goaltender Corey Crawford in replacement.
The win sends the Wings home for Wednesday’s Game 5 with a chance to wrap up the series at Joe Louis Arena. They are one win away from a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Who were the Wings’ stars for Game 4?
As mentioned before, Marian Hossa scored the game’s first goal, a huge shorthanded goal that silenced the United Center crowd. Linemate Valtteri Filppula rushed the puck up ice, and fired an impressive saucer pass over Cam Barker’s stick to Hossa, who managed to sneak the puck past Huet.
The duo of Hossa and Filppula stole the show for the Wings, taking care of the offense in Datsyuk’s absense. Filppula scored the Wings’ third goal, a power-play marker only 1:13 into the second period, to continue the silence from the crowd. He passed over to Hossa, then cut to the net to fire in a rebound off of Huet’s leg pad. The two linemates teamed up again for Hossa’s second goal, as Filppula hit him with a pass at the Chicago blue line. Hossa rushed into the zone, shrugged off a defenseman, drove to the goal, and scored on a quick shot far side.
The two linemates ended up with six points combined on the evening. Hossa played for 17:07, recording six shots, three hits, and a plus-two rating. Filppula skated for 17:31, and he recorded three shits, one hit, one takeaway, and a plus-two rating as well.
What was the goaltending situation?
I’m not sure of the last time it happened, but it was still strange – all four goaltenders played in today’s game. As mentioned previously, the Wings chased Huet from the goal in the second period. With original starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin scratched due to injury, the Hawks had to call on Crawford for replacing Huet. It was a surprising move, as Crawford had only played in seven NHL games over two seasons, with only one win, and no playoff experience. He played 15:55 of the second period, allowing one goal on seven shots. But for the third period, Huet was back in, and he stopped eight of nine shots, for a total of five goals on 26 shots.
The Wings goaltending situation was a different story. Chris Osgood started, and he stood on his head as the Wings built up the big lead. ‘Ozzie’ stopped 18 of 19 shots through the first two periods, and made big saves when he was needed. However, Ty Conklin came out for the third period. It originally looked like coach Mike Babcock was just trying to rest Osgood, but he said in his post-game press conference that Osgood was dehydrated. Either way, it was a nice break for Osgood, and a good way for Conklin to see some game action, with the game already tilted towards the Wings side. Conklin stopped all nine shots he faced in the third, as the Detroit goaltenders combined to stop 27 of 28 shots on the afternoon.