Friday, April 24, 2009

Detroit snaps seven year streak with victory over Columbus

The Colorado Avalanche were the last NHL team to move past the first round in defence of their Stanley Cup victory, on Thursday night the Detroit Red Wings finally brought that strange streak of ineptitude away, with a hard fought game four victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Wings became the first defending champion team to advance beyond the first round since those Avs of 2002, taking the Blue Jackets out in four straight, but not without a few anxious minutes in game four.

Columbus finally found some scoring resolve in what would be their final game of their playoff debut, counting five goals against Chris Osgood, more in one game than they scored in all three previous matches.

The Blue Jackets came back from two separate two goal deficits to make the final period an end to end rush of excitement for the sold out home crowd, the first real taste of playoff enthusiasm that they could enjoy, thought it would be brief.

The final score of 6-5 in favour of the Red Wings propels them on to the second round, though it does not truly indicate the nature of the series, as the Red Wings were fully dominant for the previous three games. The final game while high scoring and enjoyable for the home side crowd, was fascinating in that the Blue Jackets proved to themselves that on a given night they could be almost more than the Red Wings could handle, the problem of course was that they needed four of those kind of nights and that just didn't seem in the cards in this series.

In the end, the only real damage to the Red Wings was to Chris Osgood's Goals Against Average, which took a huge hit. The Wings were as head coach Mike Babcock put it "caught up in the moment", turning away from the formula that had served them well for three games and instead turning the fourth into a wild west kind of shoot out, where the final goal would be the winner.

The game was decided on a controversial, but correct too many men on the ice call, which provided the Red Wings with a power play and the opportunity was taken by Johan Franzen who scored the winning goal with 46 seconds to go in the final period.

The goal brought to an end the Blue Jackets first appearance in the NHL playoffs since the team joined the league nine years ago and it moves one of the most storied of franchises on to the second round and the continued defence of their title.

While the last game was out of type, the series was a return for the Wings of the kind of dominating play that they have been known for over the last few seasons, providing lots of scoring, solid defensive play and some quality goal tending from Chris Osgoood.

All key elements that will prove to be required parts of the Wings playbook if they intend to continue on with their defense of the title.

Globe and Mail-- Detroit sweeps into second round
National Post-- Wings end Blue Jackets' inaugural playoff run
Detroit Free Press-- Wings' experience begets calmness amid craziness
Detroit Free Press-- Wings finish sweep, await Canucks or Ducks
Detroit News-- Wings' Johan on the spot
Detroit News-- Wings wear out 'Jackets
Columbus Post Dispatch-- Bitter ending for Jackets
Columbus Post Dispatch-- There is pain, but no shame, in this loss
Columbus Post Dispatch-- Howson: Official got call right

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