Friday, May 9, 2008
Wings show no ill effects in Game 1 after extended layover
By Scott Burnside ESPN.com
1. Gee, those Red Wings sure are good. OK, no revelation there, but the opening gambit of the Western Conference finals wasn't close in any regard: scoring chances, hits, flow, all favored the Red Wings, who opened their series with a 4-1 victory that could have been much more lopsided. If there was any notion the Wings would need time to get back in gear after sweeping through Colorado in the second round, they were dispelled quickly as the Wings scored three times on the power play and toyed with the Stars for the latter half of the game after building up a 4-0 lead by just past the midpoint of the second period. And, oh yeah, The Mule, Johan Franzen, scored again, his fifth straight game with a goal. What else is new? He leads all NHL scorers with 12 postseason goals. Ho hum.
2. Just as the Wings appeared to have no ill effects from having been off for a week after sweeping Colorado, outshooting the Stars 25-15 through the second period in Game 1, the Stars looked like a team that had expended every ounce of emotion and energy in getting to Joe Louis. And coming off a quadruple overtime game against San Jose in Game 6 last Sunday night/Monday morning, who could blame them? But the Stars will have to find a way to get more pucks to the net and force the Red Wings on the forecheck more effectively if they're going to be a factor in this series.
3. For the record, Chris Osgood, the Rodney Dangerfield of NHL netminders, has now won seven straight games since taking over for a wobbly Dominik Hasek in Game 4 of the first round. He stopped 20 of 21 shots Thursday night and now leads the NHL with a 1.45 GAA and .939 save percentage. As for Marty Turco, you could hardly blame him given that he had a bird's-eye view of Tomas Holmstrom's rump on the first Red Wing goal and couldn't really be faulted on the others. Still, he is now 0-8-2 at Joe Louis Arena, and whether that stat is meaningless or not, he's going to have to mix in a win or the Stars will be out of business in a hurry.
4.The playoffs are where careers are made or broken. Thursday's Red Wings' victory provided another showcase for the emergence of Niklas Kronwall as an impact defenseman. And we use that term both literally and figuratively. Once again Kronwall was in the thick of things for the Wings all night. His open-ice hit on Antti Miettinen was a classic in the Scott Stevens mold. He also added a fine break-out pass to Mikael Samuelsson that led directly to the Wings' third goal by Valtteri Filppula. That was after adding a power-play assist on the second Wings goal and nearly scoring on a 2-on-1 as he stepped from the penalty box. Kronwall now has 10 assists in the postseason and leads all defensemen in postseason scoring.
5. Got to hand it to agent J.P. Barry, who created quite the bidding war for unproven Swedish winger Fabian Brunnstrom, who has never played in an NHL game and wasn't even named to the Swedish squad at the World Championships, a tournament where pretty much anyone with a pulse gets named to their respective national rosters. But there was Brunnstrom, touring around the NHL in recent days (good thing he wasn't bogged down with having to play in the worlds after all) testing out various cities before ultimately signing with Dallas. Brunnstrom might turn out to be the next Henrik Zetterberg or even the next Franzen, but until he actually sets foot on an NHL sheet of ice, he's still Jiri Dopita with better representation.
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.