Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Red Wings return to the finals

The youngsters from Chicago provided for a rather stern test, but in the end, it was as expected a Detroit Red wing team that would be moving on to the Stanley Cup final.

With a lineup riddled with injuries, the Red Wings counted on the second, the third and the fourth line players to pull more than the expected weight, a complete team effort indicative of the Red Wing ethic that not one player seems to be larger than the collective group.

Wednesday nights overtime victory found Dan Cleary back in a familiar spot, scoring an important goal, the first one that broke the 0 to 0 deadlock in the third, but to their credit the Hawks were not frustrated or ready for defeat, Patrick Kane quickly got that one back, his goal seemingly sending the message that an overtime win was going to be the required ticket for the Red Wings if they hoped to move on to the finals.

And just shy of four minutes into that extra frame, Darren Helm did just that, a furious scramble in front of Christobal Huet, resulting in a desperate poke at the puck and on into the net, the winning goal bringing dejection to Chicago and euphoria to Detroit.

While the eventual result seemed only a matter of time as the series progressed, the Hawks served notice that they are not that far away from their own shot a the Stanley Cup final. If not for a number of breakdowns at key periods of the five games, they may have forced this series to its full seven games.

But, against a veteran squad such as the Wings, those lapses proved to be too costly, the Wings with such depth in their line up that even the absence of some of their top line stars hardly seemed to have any effect.

Instead, we found a Dan Cleary, a one time Chicago cast off, suddenly one of the hottest players in the playoffs, each game another indicator that the Conn Smythe Trophy doesn't necessarily have to be destined for a star player.

And while Chicago fans may bemoan their fate, they must be quite excited about their future, with this vital bit of playoff success, these Hawks will no doubt be a team to be reckoned with.

For now though, the season belongs to the Wings and the Penguins, a renewal of last years festivities, one of historic tones, with the Penguins playing the role of the 84 Oilers, the Wings the Islanders.

Detroit, as one of hockey's most historic teams, will no doubt be seeking to change the destiny that played out in 84, anxious not to turn over their championship status just yet.

While there were a few twists along the way, as we head for Saturday night's game one debut, we have a fine looking series ahead, considering the off ice diversions this playoff year, it's rather nice to have some hockey to look forward to for a change.

Globe and Mail-- Helm powers Detroit into final
National Post-- Red Wings will once again meet Penguins in final
Windsor Star-- Injury-plagued Wings dispatch Chicago
Detroit Free Press-- If Wings win it, put Helm's name in all caps on the Cup
Detroit Free Press-- Clinched without their C
Detroit News-- Wings pull out OT thriller to earn return Finals trip against Penguins
Detroit News-- Unlikely hero Helm puts Wings in Stanley Cup Finals
Detroit News-- Dan Cleary continues hot scoring streak
Chicago Sun Times-- It's overtime and out for Hawks as Wings advance to Finals
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks' end also a beginning of great expectations
Chicago Tribune-- Chicago Blackhawks lose to Detroit Red Wings 2-1
Chicago Tribune-- Hawks were good, Huet was great, Wings are best

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