|The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 to take Game 1 of the West Finals. Watch Red Wings-Stars highlights|
Crease-crashing blues – Dallas goaltender Marty Turco had plenty of company in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Everywhere Turco went it seemed like he had a Red Wing or two making his life miserable.
Two of the Wings’ goals in their 4-1 win came on deflections. Johan Franzen tipped a shot into the net in the first period, and Tomas Holmstrom was credited with a second-period goal when Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot hit him and went past Turco.
"We got two power-play goals on tip-ins, and it's tough for him to stop those kind of shots when we have traffic in front of him,” Lidstrom said of Turco. “We want to take a lot of shots but create a lot of traffic, too, have him play a little deeper in his crease."
Dallas coach Dave Tippett was especially upset by Holmstrom’s goal, contending the Swedish forward was in the crease and making it impossible for Turco to move around. Turco also felt he’d been interfered with by Holmstrom, but the referees allowed the goal to stand.
“We were told that if there was a player in blue paint that would be no goal, but obviously that didn’t happen,” Tippett said. “When they’re in the blue paint, our goaltender is supposed to have the ability to do his job. The third goal, that wasn’t the case. Marty’s going to have to be more aggressive, we’re going to have to be more aggressive in front to deal with those people in front if they’re not going to call it how, to me, they’re supposed to call it.”
Turco can expect more of the same from the Wings in Game 2 Saturday night.
“Turco’s on fire, playing real well in the playoffs,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We can’t let him have space. And so we gotta be right there and back them in. If we do that, we have a chance to be successful in the series.”
|Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula celebrates with teammate Johan Franzen after scoring in the second period of Game 1 last night.
Franzen’s first-period goal was his 12th of this year’s playoffs, the most of any player. He extended his franchise record for goals in one playoff year. He now has 15 points, tying him with Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers for the lead in playoff points.
Franzen also matched a franchise record by scoring a goal for the fifth consecutive game, equaling the mark held by Gordie Howe, who did it in 1949 and 1964, and Ted Lindsay, who accomplished it in 1952.
"He's a good hockey player; he's a big, big guy,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Franzen. “He's strong, he's got great hands. He was in front of Turco tonight, and I thought we did a good job of that early.”
Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom combine to give the Wings perhaps the best pair of crease-crashers in the game.
“We got two goals that way,” Franzen said. “It was a good night for our net-front guys.”
A few more nights like that and the Wings will be back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since winning it all in 2002.
Slow start, big price – The Stars came into the Western Conference Final after winning a four-overtime marathon against San Jose on Sunday night/Monday morning. They had a couple days off, but their legs looked heavy.
“I’m not worried about how the Red Wings played,” said Tippett. “I’m worried about how we played. That wasn’t even close to the way we’ve played in the playoffs. Whether it was fatigue from that last game, whatever the reason, we didn’t play close to our capabilities. Give the Red Wings all the credit in the world. They did what they had to do to win, but we’re going to have to be much better.”
The Stars never recovered from an early 5-on-3 power-play goal by Detroit’s Brian Rafalski. They looked a step slow, and that’s no way to play against the NHL’s best puck-possession team. There were times when the Wings looked like they were on a power play even when both teams had five skaters.
“We didn’t skate, didn’t get to the level we needed to get to tonight,” Tippett said. “When you’re engaged in a game and doing things at a top level, we didn’t have enough people at that level tonight. Whether we left our legs in Dallas, time will tell. We’ve got to get our legs moving.”
Stars win Brunnstrom sweepstakes – The Stars did beat the Wings at one thing Thursday: They won the battle to sign Swedish free-agent forward Fabian Brunnstrom.
The Wings, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs also were in pursuit of the 23-year-old free agent, who went undrafted in the NHL. Agent J.P. Barry would not discuss financial details, but it's believed the deal is worth $875,000 in base salary and could pay up Brunnstrom to $2.5 million a season if he reaches all of his bonuses.
Brunnstrom had nine goals and 37 points in 54 games with Farjestads of the Swedish Elite League this past season.
"When Fabian visited Dallas and got to meet everybody, including the players, he just felt it was the best overall fit for him," Barry told the Canadian Press.
Big loss for Flyers – If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to get to the Stanley Cup Final, they’ll have to do it without their best defenseman.
An examination Thursday found the clot. Timonen will go on blood thinners, but it’s doubtful he’ll make it back for the Eastern Conference Final against Pittsburgh.
“We have to view this as he’s not a player for us in this series and we have to march on,” GM Paul Holmgren said. “We have to deal with it. It gives somebody else an opportunity to step up. Obviously you can’t replace a player who does what Kimmo does for us.”
Timonen has six assists and a plus-5 rating in 12 playoff games this year.
“It’s a huge disappointment, obviously,” the All-Star defenseman said. “I wasn’t expecting this result. It’s the most disappointing thing in my life, hockey-wise.”
As painful as having to watch rather than play might be, Timonen said the doctor told him the alternative – trying to play through the injury – could be worse.
“He said if you get hit there again, the blood clot might break up and go down to your toes and then we’d have to cut off your toes,” he said of the doctor’s response to the risks of playing. “That’s not a very good scenario.”
Contact John Kreiser at email@example.com.