Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Detroit delivers their knock out punch

It will be the old hands versus the new guns for Lord Stanley’s Cup this year. The Detroit Red Wings perhaps one of the most successful franchises in the last twenty years will take on the new kids on the block the Pittsburgh Penguins this Saturday for game one of their best of seven series.

Detroit advanced on Monday night on the strength of a very convincing 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars, giving them that elusive fourth win of the best of seven series. The Wings who stumbled in games four and five, made no mistakes in game six as they completely dominated the Stars in the first period of play.

Detroit took charge from the opening face off; crashing the play deep into the Dallas end and making the Stars make far too many errors to come back from. Detroit’s offensive push was so successful that they were ahead 3-0 before the Stars even seemed to find their skates.

The Detroit approach was simply to fire puck after puck at Stars Goaltender Marty Turco, who coming off one of his best efforts on Saturday found that Monday’s game wouldn’t be one for the family room video library.

While he can’t be faulted for the Stars anemic offense or less than enthusiastic defensive play, there were a few moments when a timely save might have given the Stars a chance to catch their breath and begin the process of clawing their way back into the game.

As it was, the Stars didn’t really seem to show the intensity needed to challenge the Wings until the third period, at which point it was just a little late. The Dallas approach in the third, was much the same as the Red Wing one for the bulk of the game, fast moving action and lots of shots at Chris Osgood who was more than up to the challenge after what appeared to be a first period vacation such was Dallas’ anemic offensive play early on. In the third, Detroit bent a little, but they didn’t break, and on the way finally put aside the growing concern that they couldn’t finish off the pesky Stars.

The game was perhaps the perfect tune up for the Stanley Cup final, as it brought the Red Wings back into the groove we have become accustomed to, with all of their lines providing the offensive push while the defensive corps more than did their job in shutting down the Stars attack.

The win sets up a most anticipated Stanley Cup final, one which heralds the rise of the Penguins youthful stars as they come along and rattle the cage of the traditionalists of Detroit, with their many Stanley Cup appearances and more than a few veterans who have been there before.

If the NHL had been hoping for a storyline to showcase the game it probably wouldn’t get much better than this one (unless of course you live above the 49th parallel and would like to one day see Stanley come home again!), with its promise of the high flying Penguin offense going up against one of the toughest checking teams in hockey, who as we have seen can put the puck in the net as much as the next guys.

The only drawback is that the series won’t be starting until Saturday, leaving the NHL to face four days of absence from the sports news cycle, expect to learn a lot more about Sidney, Evgeni, Marc Andre, Niklas, Pavel and Chris before they get around to dropping a puck on Saturday night…

NHL.com-- Stats Pack

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