05.14.2009 8:03 PM ET
What's left to be said about this series that hasn't already been said? The Ducks are playing physical hockey, the Wings are playing their puck-control game. Whoever wins Game 7 will have earned it and will deserve a berth in the Western Conference Finals.
However I believe that this series will impact more than just this season's playoffs, it will give an answer as to what style of hockey is better. Should a franchise follow the Ducks' model and build a team that is tough and overtly physical? Or should clubs emulate the Red Wings and stock up on skilled players who win games with great two-way puck-control play?
Would you rather build a team around grit and power, with players like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Pronger? Or do you choose perpetual award winners Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom?
Both methods have its supporters and its detractors. I'm not sure you can prove that either way is right or wrong. I will say that by the end of tonight, either Bob Murray and Brian Murray or Ken Holland will have serious, and warranted bragging rights.
-- Deven Persaud
Draper's in, Maltby's out
05.14.2009 7:03 PM ET
Kris Draper is getting his wish.
The Detroit Red Wings forward has received the green light from doctors and will make his 2009 postseason debut in Game 7 tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.
Draper will replace veteran forward Kirk Maltby in the lineup, as coach Mike Babcock is a fan of the physical game that rookie Justin Abdelkader brings to the table.
-- Brian Compton
Defense first for Ducks
05.13.2009 12:10 AM ET
Anaheim must be aware of how good the Red Wings are in the final period, where they've outscored their opponents 10-2 during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Honda Center faithful must be at the edge of their seats knowing how deadly this Detroit team is.
If I were a Ducks fan, I'd be very scared if Detroit gets one goal past Jonas Hiller. The flood gates may open. They are an explosive team with talent on every line. Whether it's the usual suspects for the Wings or an unlikely hero like Darren Helm, these Wings are scary up and down their roster.
The Ducks have to play a bit of a trap the rest of the way; one man forechecking hard and the other two forwards sitting back trying to force a turnover as the Wings break out. And obviously, Anaheim needs Hiller to continue what he's done all game.
I'm not saying the Wings pull off this improbable comeback, but Anaheim has to be a bit nervous regardless of the two-goal lead.
-- Matthew Cubeta
05.12.2009 11:30 PM ET
The Red Wings are starting to come alive at the Honda Center. On their second power play of the game, the defending champs have started to show some heavy offensive pressure here in the second period.
Henrik Zetterberg had what felt like an hour to shoot the puck, and he did, but Jonas Hiller was ready for it and forced it out of play with a shoulder save. Then, moments later, Nicklas Lidstrom teed off a blistering slapper from the point that Hiller kicked away.
Hiller is a perfect 17-17 midway through this second period, and we'll see if the Wings can crack him tonight.
The Red Wings will continue to apply plenty of pressure, and I think they will eventually get one past Hiller to tie the score. Anaheim goes to the box again now; could this be Detroit's time in Game 6?
-- Matthew Cubeta
Couple of players to watch out for
05.12.2009 10:20 PM ET
Well, it lasted less than two games, but Bobby Ryan has been reunited with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Not sure why he was ever taken off this line, as he is a perfect compliment to the phenomenal passer in Getzlaf and the hard-nosed Perry.
Ryan has tremendous talent and great scoring hands. Look for him to play an important role in tonight's crucial game. Ryan has been held without a point in the last three games, as it appears that Detroit has watched plenty of tape coming into this series.
Another player to keep an eye on is Detroit's MVP nominee, Pavel Datsyuk, who shockingly hasn't scored in the first five games of this series. I know he's more of a passer than a scorer, but he's bound to find the back of the net sooner or later.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Chelios happy for Chicago
05.12.2009 9:58 PM ET
It's been a decade since Chris Chelios suited up in a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, but the 47-year-old defenseman couldn't help but feel good about his old team advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1995.
The Blackhawks clinched a spot among the West's final on Monday night with a 7-5 Game 6 victory over Vancouver.
"It's been a long time coming," Chelios said.
Chelios, a three-time Norris Trophy winner who played for Chicago from 1990-99, said the Blackhawks' hiring of former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman as senior advisor of hockey operations and Joel Quenneville as coach have made a difference.
"They've made some real major changes throughout the organization," he said. "Bringing in Scotty and a veteran coach which they hadn't had, I don't think, in a long time.
"They drafted for skill. It was just a matter of getting some direction and some structure. And it looks like Quenneville's bringing that to them. As far as the fans, they've had a full building and that's a tough building. I'm sure the team feeds off that."
Most of all, Chelios said current owner Rocky Wirtz, son of the late owner Bill Wirtz, has brought the franchise into the 21st century. The younger Wirtz is credited with putting Blackhawks’ home games back on local television after his father steadfastly refused to do so.
"As stubborn as Mr. Wirtz was and his belief that it was an honor to be a season-ticket holder, and that was his father's belief too, it's just evolution," Chelios said. "It took another generation to finally realize it. You've got to put the games on TV. The players can be promoted to the kids."
Another move, Chelios said, was Wirtz's hiring of John McDonough, a former marketing whiz with the Chicago Cubs, as team president. McDonough is often credited with reconnecting a once-loyal fan base with the team.
"As cheesy as some of these things are and the gimmicks, it works and people buy into it," Chelios said. "It's the quickest turnaround I've seen, from the fans' standpoint."
-- Eric Stephens
Wings get help from all over
05.11.2009 12:56 p.m. ET
It isn't always the star player that scores the biggest goal. That theory was further proved Sunday when Detroit center Darren Helm, who is averaging just 9:53 of ice time in the playoffs, scored the third goal in Detroit's 4-1 win against the Ducks in Game 5.
While the goal wasn't a highlight-reel goal, it made an Anaheim comeback highly improbable. Helm concedes that it is the most important goal that he has ever scored.
"It was just loose in the slot and I went top shelf," Helm told the Detroit News. "It's my biggest NHL goal right now. It was a great shift from start to finish."
Linemate Dan Cleary knows Helm's speed and willingness to go into the corners is part of what makes him an effective player.
"He's been unbelievable," Cleary told the Detroit News. "He's so fast, he's physical and his work ethic is contagious. That goal was the dagger."
Helm knows that it isn't just his offensive ability that is keeping him in coach Mike Babcock's lineup and that his physical play can take a toll on the opposition.
"It's important to make the hits to wear the other team down," Helm said. "That's what you have to do to be successful in the NHL playoffs."
-- Adam Schwartz
Ice tilted in the first period
05.10.2009 6:13 PM ET
Well, the Wings have come out flying in Game 5 at the "Joe." With 20 minutes of play complete, they outshot the Ducks 14-3, outhit them 17-5, blocked five shots to Anaheim's zero and simply dominated the opening period.
Of course, none of these statistics mean anything on the scoreboard, and this game is scoreless through the first. The Ducks can thank Jonas Hiller for that, as he has clearly shrugged off his problems from Game 4. The Red Wings also found a little bit of bad luck, as they hit the post twice.
If the Ducks plan to make things interesting for the rest of this game, they're going to need their top two lines to really pick up their play. With Ryan Carter now playing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Anaheim's second line adds a little more depth, as Bobby Ryan joined Teemu Selanne and Erik Christensen. Getzlaf and Perry are clearly the catalysts to this offense, but they're going to need support from someone unexpected.
Look for the Red Wings to keep doing exactly what they did in the first: keep driving to the net and getting shots, while playing solid defense and blocking everything in front of Chris Osgood.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Up and down action
05.10.2009 5:25 PM ET
Within the first two minutes of the contest we've seen three good scoring chances in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena.
First it was Detroit with the opportunity, as Marian Hossa found Johan Franzen flying into the Anaheim zone, but Franzen rang a shot off the far post. Speaking of which, is there anyone more clutch in the playoffs than Franzen? He's got 19 goals in his last 24 playoff games.
Then, just under a minute after the Wings hit the post, Teemu Selanne broke in from the wing and fired a shot that was stopped by Chris Osgood. Moments later the Ducks had another great scoring opportunity, as Ryan Getzlaf fed a pass to a cutting Corey Perry, but Osgood poked the puck away.
The last time these teams met in Detroit, Game 2 lasted three overtimes. This game has seen plenty of early action; who knows, maybe they'll play four overtimes today.
-- Matthew Cubeta
05.10.2009 4:37 PM ET
So much for a goaltending controversy.
Jonas Hiller, who struggled in the Anaheim Ducks' 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 on Thursday night, gets the starting nod tonight for Game 5. On Saturday, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle refused to tell reporters whether Hiller or 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere would be between the pipes.
Also, defenseman James Wisniewski is back in the lineup after missing Game 4 due to a lung contusion.
-- Brian Compton
Back in Motown
05.09.2009 2:25 PM ET
We're back in Detroit for Game 5 of what has been a remarkable series between the Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks. With the series tied 2-2, both teams will make adjustments and try to put the other on the brink of elimination.
It was business as usual at Joe Louis Arena, where the defending champions skated on Saturday morning. Brian Rafalski did not skate again and will miss his fifth-straight game tomorrow with an upper-body injury. Kris Draper did practice but will also miss Game 5. He, too, has not played in this series.
The biggest news here was that rookie forward Justin Abdelkader is expected to make his postseason debut. With Tomas Kopecky injured following his fight with Francois Beauchemin, Abdelkader, 22, will skate on the fourth line alongside Kirk Maltby and Mikael Samuelsson.
The Michigan State product is expected to bring a physical presence, which is just what the Wings need against these Ducks. Not only did Abdelkader score 24 goals for AHL Grand Rapids this season, but he also racked up 102 penalty minutes.
On the Anaheim side of things, All-Star forward Ryan Getzlaf did not skate today but is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow. Defenseman James Wisniewski (bruised lung) participated in practice and is a game-time decision. Wisniewski, who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on trade deadline day, suffered the injury in Game 3.
Other notes from Saturday's media session:
-- The city of Detroit suffered a big loss this morning with the death of former Pistons coach Chuck Daly, who was 78. Daly, the winningest coach in the history of the NBA franchise, was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock touched on the subject during his press conference.
"What he was able to bring to Detroit and the legacy … it's like Scotty (Bowman) in that way," Babcock said. "They earned the right to be special. I just think there will be a lot of fond memories for the people who are real basketball fans or sports fans in Detroit. That's a special thing. But I also think you've got to survive the test of time to be revered like that … like Scotty or Mr. Daly."
-- Marian Hossa, who had 40 goals during the regular season, ended a three-game drought with a pair of tallies on Thursday night. He admitted the output brought a sense of relief.
"It's always a relief when after a couple of games, you score," who was placed on a line with Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula during Game 4. "We were getting chances but the puck wasn't getting in. You just have to stay positive. You can't get frustrated. Sooner or later, they will go in -- and they did."
-- Star forward Henrik Zetterberg was grateful that Game 5 wouldn't be played tonight following the lone trip back from Anaheim on Thursday night. The teams won't be as lucky when the series shifts back to Southern California for Game 6 on Tuesday.
"It helps a lot, just to come home and have a practice here today and get the legs going," Zetterberg said. I think it will help.
"We've been here before. We know how it effects us coming back from the west coast. You just try to get the most you can out of your bodies today. Tomorrow, we'll be ready to go."
-- Brian Compton
05.08.2009 12:50 AM ET
For the second time in the game, the Ducks surrendered a goal in the final minute of play during a period.
With 36 seconds remaining in the first period, Johan Franzen netted his second goal of the game. And then, with 54 seconds left in the second stanza, Marian Hossa tallied his second goal of the night.
Hossa's goal came on the power play, but still, the Ducks cannot let that happen if they want to win this series, let alone twice in one game. I've said it before and I'll say it again, any goal in the final minute of play during any period is a monumental dagger to a team.
On a separate note, the Red Wings have outshot Anaheim a combined 51-17 in the third periods of the first three games of this series. And considering Detroit scored 2:46 into this period to take a 5-2 lead, things are not looking very good for Anaheim here in Game 4.
-- Matthew Cubeta
How's that for a response
05.07.2009 11:28 PM ET
Well, things have changed since my last entry -- significantly. The Red Wings are the defending champs for a reason, and they have showed that here in the first period of Game 4 at the Honda Center.
After surrendering a goal in the first minute of action, the Red Wings have answered with two goals of their own to close out the first period. And of course it was Johan Franzen scoring both goals for Detroit. The "Mule" has been outstanding in the '09 playoffs, recording his fifth and sixth goals tonight. He now leads Detroit in goals and points (11) during the playoffs. By the way, Franzen now has 19 goals over the last two playoff seasons, the most of anyone in the NHL in that span.
Anaheim had the early momentum in this pivotal game, but Detroit has stolen every ounce of it heading into the second period. Franzen's second goal came with 36 seconds to go in the opening frame, an inopportune time for Anaheim to allow that. Goals that come in the final minute of a period are extremely detrimental.
We'll see if Anaheim can respond the same way Detroit did earlier tonight.
-- Matthew Cubeta
What a start
05.07.2009 10:59 PM ET
So after just over a minute of play, we've seen the Ducks make a great defensive play, score a goal and come up with a huge save. Can it get any better for Anaheim?
-- Matthew Cubeta
05.05.2009 6:50 PM ET
Anaheim defenseman James Wisniewski is expected to be released from UCI Medical Center in Orange County on Thursday morning. He’s being held today as a standard medical precaution after being diagnosed with a lung contusion.
Wisniewski suffered the injury after being struck by the puck in the chest area last night during the Ducks' 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3. The teams will meet again for Game 4 tomorrow night.
-- Brian Compton
Green gets a chance
05.05.2009 11:02 PM ET
After a career spent toiling in the minor leagues with occasional spots of NHL duty over the last 10 years, Josh Green knew that he was in Anaheim solely for insurance purposes in case the Ducks incurred any injuries during the postseason.
Little did he know that Ducks coach Randy Carlyle would call him up on Saturday night and let him know that he would make his Anaheim debut -- in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings.
"It was a tough night," Green said. "I got a little bit of sleep. Certainly I got a few butterflies when he first told me. I decided to calm myself down the best way I could."
Green, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound left wing, acquitted himself well playing on the fourth line with Petteri Nokelainen and Mike Brown. The Camrose, Alberta, native played 11:18 and nearly helped the Ducks grab a two-goal lead early in the third period when he rang a shot off the goal post.
"That was disappointing," he said. "I would have liked to put that one in; it would have given us some breathing room. I’m just glad we got the win."
Originally taken in the second round by the Los Angeles Kings in 1990, Green has played in 322 NHL games with the Kings, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
Acquired as a free agent on July 22, Green spent this season with the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate. In 39 games with the Iowa Chops, Green had 10 goals and 14 assists before breaking his leg on Jan. 10 against Manitoba and missing the rest of the regular season.
"We felt that he would be a guy that if things went the way we felt, he could support our lineup and possibly play on our team this year," Carlyle said. "Unfortunately for Josh, he broke his leg. He was our best player in Iowa. And he’s worked extremely hard getting himself back.
"It's a tribute to the player when you talk about a player who hasn’t played a game in the NHL and then steps into your lineup in a playoff series against the Stanley Cup champions and makes a positive contribution."
-- Eric Stephens
Carlyle holds off
05.05.2009 10:30 PM ET
During the first two games of the series, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle has conducted in-game interviews with the respective ice level reporters for the nationally televised games on Versus and NBC.
Other coaches like Detroit’s Mike Babcock have often done the same -- but this is the first time that Carlyle has ever done an in-game interview; it was something he once vowed he’d never do. Usually either a player or an assistant coach would take the coach’s place.
Apparently, Carlyle could feel his pocketbook snapping at him.
"There is a fine of substantial amount that I’m susceptible to for refusing to do it," he said. "Simple as that."
Carlyle said the amount he would have had to shell out was $10,000.
"Unless you’re prepared to pay the fine and I wasn’t prepared that amount, then I guess I have to do it," he said.
-- Eric Stephens
No panic in Wings
05.05.2009 12:15 PM ET
Losing a game in triple overtime might mentally destroy some teams, but the Red Wings aren't just some team. The Red Wings know that momentum can swing back and forth in a series, especially after losing to the Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final when Petr Sykora scored 9:57 into the third overtime period only to come back and win the Cup two nights later in Pittsburgh.
So don't expect Detroit to just roll over and play dead in Game 3 of this series. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock actually relished the five-hour flight from Detroit to Anaheim and took it as an opportunity to review his team's status in this series.
"We had a five-hour flight, which gave us the opportunity for consideration," Babcock told the Los Angeles Times. "We went through the tape and decided we were fine."
Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart was acquired at the trade deadline last season and was paired Niklas Kronwall when the Red Wings won the Cup last season and knows that the experience in the Red Wings locker room will pay off in a situation like this one.
"It's an experience that most of us in here had," Stuart told the Detroit News. "We're probably not going to talk about it as a team, but we can all draw from it in our own ways. Knowing how your body is going to feel the day after, I think, is probably the key. We've been through it before. We know how we're going to feel. I think it's an advantage for us having gone through that last year."
For the Red Wings to gain the edge in the series, they must get production from some of their top players who are off to a slow start in this series. Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who was nominated for the Hart Trophy as the League's most valuable player in the regular season, had just one assist in the first two games of the series. Marian Hossa, the only Detroit player to score 40 goals this season who had 2 goals and 4 points in four games in the first round, has no points in the series.
Babcock is aware that Datsyuk and Hossa are integral to Detroit's success in this series and thinks that they have been good in this series despite a lack of offensive statistics.
"It's show time," Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. "They know that, too. You know, Pav (Datsyuk) made about three or four plays down the stretch on Hossa's stick, on Ericsson's stick -- if one of those guys buries it -- Pav was great. Well, they didn't shoot it in the net and that's the way hockey is. If I didn't know him, if I'd just met him this week, you might be concerned, but that's the farthest thing from my concern. He'll be fine."
-- Adam Schwartz
Too early for Conn Smythe?
05.03.2009 11:22 PM ET
I know, I know … we’re only two games into the conference semifinals in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But seriously, has anyone been better this postseason than Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf?
Big. Strong. Powerful. Great skater. Getzlaf has it all. Detroit coach Mike Babcock even went as far as calling the soon-to-be 24-year-old (a week from today) "one of the best players in the world."
Hard to argue with Babcock. Getzlaf had three more points in today’s 4-3 triple-overtime win at Joe Louis Arena, giving the big centerman a League-leading 13 points this postseason.
Of course, the Ducks have a long way to go in these playoffs if Getzlaf has any crack at the Conn Smythe. But he has to be considered the early favorite, right?
On Sunday, Getzlaf gave us another reason why he’d be worthy of the award. He fell one second shy of playing 39 minutes. He had another goal and two assists. He didn’t shy away from the physical game.
Yes sir, Getzlaf is the whole package. And the trio of he, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry form one of the most formidable lines in the NHL. It sure can’t be fun to play against those three.
"As time goes on, we’re hoping that the more he plays gutsy, the more he’s going to run out of gas," Babcock said. "I think he had 37 (minutes) tonight. We’re going to just keep padding it on and keep going. That’s what you do in a series – just try to wear the other team out."
If only Getzlaf showed signs of slowing down.
"In my mind, he’s the best player in the league," Ducks forward Teemu Selanne said. "If there’s a better all-around player, show him to me."
Let the debate begin.
-- Brian Compton
Plenty of first period action
05.3.2009 3:06 PM ET
When I think of playoff hockey I usually picture 1-0 games, or long, low-scoring, defensive overtime games. Well Game 2 at Joe Louis Arena has been quite the opposite so far.
We all know these teams have phenomenal scorers, and considering Detroit had the number one power play during the regular season and Anaheim had the fourth best, maybe we should expect some higher scoring games.
Today's first period has seen four goals, with both teams converting on their lone power play opportunities. Penalties will be detrimental as we have noticed through 20 minutes of play, so if you want to win, stay out of the box in this series.
Despite the four goals, we have also seen a terrific save from each goaltender here in the first period. Chris Osgood robbed Drew Miller on a breakaway just four minutes into the game, and then with less than two minutes to go in the stanza, Jonas Hiller made a tremendous poke check on a Darren Helm opportunity.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Talk about a bounce
05.3.2009 2:40 PM ET
Well this game has had some interesting bounces so far, all on one play too. Just two minutes after Chris Osgood came up with a key save on Drew Miller, the Red Wings got on the scoreboard thanks to some lucky bounces.
With Ryan Getzlaf serving the final seconds of his slashing penalty, Brad Stuart came up with his first 2009 playoff goal in a weird way. There was a loose puck at the bottom of the circle in the Ducks zone and Stuart came charging in from the point. Trying to settle the play down, the puck bounced off Stuart's right skate, then his left skate and then squirted towards the front of the net and took one final bounce off James Wisniewski's skate and into the back of the net.
Brad Stuart's fifth career playoff goal gave the Wings an early 1-0 lead. We'll see how Anaheim responds after one unlucky play.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Ducks make changes
05.3.2009 2:16 PM ET
Looking to shake things up, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle has made changes to his lineup for Game 2.
Petteri Nokelainen will replace Erik Christensen at center, while Josh Green replaces the feisty George Parros.
Detroit is going with the same lineup as Game 1.
-- Brian Compton
Time for adjustments
05.02.2009 3:17 PM ET
As expected, Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal between the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks was a tight, physical battle.
That won't change when the teams meet again tomorrow afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
But both teams spent Saturday trying to figure out ways to be more successful. For Detroit, it's about building off a third period in which they dominated. For Anaheim, it's about creating more traffic in front of Chris Osgood and getting more offense from the second, third and fourth lines.
"In the last 10 minutes, we just started to feed them," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't control the puck in the defensive zone. We just chipped the puck out of the zone and they started to come at us in waves. They didn't really come with a strong forecheck in the neutral ice. They sit back and wait for you. You've got to show patience."
Judging by how they spoke on Saturday, the Red Wings may not sit back as much in Game 2. The plan for tomorrow seems to be using more speed near center ice and finding a way to blaze through the defense – much like how Johan Franzen did en route to his power-play goal in the first period, when he cruised past Francois Beauchemin.
"We have to try to get through the neutral zone a little faster," Henrik Zetterberg said. "I think we didn't get through enough yesterday. We have to get the puck behind them a little bit more and go from there."
Wings coach Mike Babcock agreed.
"We've got to skate way better than we did," Babcock said. "We'll handle the puck better. We've got to be quicker and get through the neutral zone better. They did a good job of shutting down our speed. We never got to the net enough early in the game. We picked it up as the game went on."
The Ducks were outshot 18-7 in the third period, a statistic they hope doesn't repeat itself in Game 2. That being said, Anaheim was less than a minute away from forcing overtime before Nicklas Lidstrom potted the game-winner.
"We were in the hockey game and we're playing one of the best teams in the League," Getzlaf said. "We were 2-2 going into the last minute. The positives were there and we're going to work hard and get ready for the next one."
Other notes from Saturday:
-- One of the main reasons why the Red Wings came away with the victory in Game 1 was their ability to win faceoffs. Zetterberg won 16 of his 23 draws, while Pavel Datsyuk went 12-for-16.
"We had a good night," Zetterberg said. "It's important to start with the puck and hopefully we can do the same job tomorrow."
Other than Todd Marchant (11-for-21), Anaheim struggled mightily. Getzlaf went 3-for-21.
"There was one guy that was positive in the faceoff circle, and everybody else wasn't," Carlyle said. "There's a few things I think we can do to change that. They did a better job of supporting their centers in those situations. Those are the things that you try to improve on on a game-to-game basis."
Getzlaf was asked what he needs to do better in the faceoff circle.
"Win," he quipped. "It's overall battling and everything. Everyone's got to help out on the draws. We're facing a pretty good team and a lot of good centermen."
-- Mike Brown's hit on Jiri Hudler was certainly the biggest story from Game 1 and kind of took away from the solid performance put forth by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood.
After an inconsistent regular season, Osgood, as usual, has stepped up his game in the playoffs. The veteran made 22 saves and even picked up an assist on Lidstrom's first goal of the night.
"I've played against them enough to know that they like to jam pucks and throw them at the net. They create a lot of havoc in the crease area," Osgood said of the Ducks. "I have to stay strong on my side and trust my teammates on the far side.
"This series is going to be won and lost in the trenches in front of the net. We did a pretty good job in the first game of clearing pucks."
-- Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger – who was booed every time he touched the puck on Friday night – couldn't help but applaud the Red Wings' organization for the way it's been able to content consistently for close to two decades.
"They've been able to retool on the fly and not skip a beat," Pronger said. "Yeah, they got lucky in getting Zetterberg and Datsyuk in the fourth and six rounds, or wherever they took them. An awful lot of players got picked before them. But when you see Stevie (Yzerman) retiring, (Sergei) Fedorov moving on, Shanny (Brendan Shanahan) leaving … you go on and on down the line. They didn't skip a beat. They get Zetterberg, they get Datsyuk, they're moving guys in like (Johan) Franzen now. They've been able to retool on the fly and continue to be contenders every year. That's impressive."
-- Brian Compton
Lidstrom … enough said
05.01.2009 11:26 PM ET
Having won six Norris Trophies, and being nominated yet again this year, Lidstrom is borderline inhuman. His Game 1 of the second round against the Anaheim Ducks proved, yet again, that he is one of the greatest defensemen of all time. He led the way with two goals and an assist, including his game-winning goal with just 50 seconds to go in regulation. He is now tied for the team lead in this year's playoffs with seven points. He played over 27 minutes of action in Game 1. He had four shots on goal, one blocked shot and one hit. The man is just a machine in every possible way for the Wings.
Lidstrom is the prototypical blueliner. He is unbelievable defensively, he knows how to score, he knows how to pass and he knows how to lead. He does all the right things when no one is watching. He simply knows this game better than anyone in the NHL. I personally have never seen a better defenseman in my life. I am only 25 years old and a lot of people say Bobby Orr is one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, but I can confidently say that Lidstrom is the best defenseman I have ever seen. I mean, who can argue his six Norris Trophies?
Lidstrom may not win his seventh Norris Trophy this season, but no one can argue what he has done this year. And even at 39 years old, if there's one player I'd want to build around for a run at the Cup, it's Nicklas Lidstrom.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Ericsson and Perry dance
05.01.2009 8:28 PM ET
Not only can Corey Perry score goals, as he did in the first period of Game 1, but he can also scrap if he has to. At 4:12 of the second period, Corey Perry squared off with youngster Jonathan Ericsson. The fight started after a whistle following an Osgood save. It appeared like the two players were just jawing with each other, but they kept going at it. The linesman tried to intervene, but he was unable to prevent the two tough players from dropping their gloves.
Ericsson, Detroit's 25-year old defenseman, has had just one NHL fight during his short career so far. It came on April 6 against Buffalo Sabres forward Drew Stafford. Perry dropped his gloves three times during the regular season.
It wasn't the longest lasting fight, but a few punches were thrown and eventually Ericsson wrestled Perry to the ice. Not only were the Detroit fans going crazy about it, but Ericsson's teammates were excited and proud to see their young defenseman stand up for himself. Probably a good trade off for the Red Wings too, considering Perry had 72 points during the regular season and had three goals and an assist in the opening series against San Jose.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Chelios extends records
05.01.2009 7:43 PM ET
It’s official. With Detroit’s Brian Rafalski out with an upper-body injury, Chris Chelios made his first foray into the 2009 playoffs. In doing so, he extends a couple of his own playoff records. One is most seasons with a postseason appearance, now at 24. The 47-year-old defenseman has missed the playoffs only once in his career (1997-98). Chelios also owns the record for most playoff games played -- 261 and counting. Look for him on the ice tonight, paired with Brett Lebda.
Chelios was also named a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy.
-- Colin Kelly
Ducks come out hard
05.01.2009 7:33 PM ET
Well if anyone had any doubts about the Ducks deserving to be in this second round, they quickly proved they're ready to play.
After a fairly quiet start, the Ducks got on the scoreboard first. Ryan Getzlaf made a terrific pass to his usual target, Corey Perry, who ripped a slap shot over the glove hand of Chris Osgood. It was Anaheim's fourth shot of the game.
Jonas Hiller seems as ready for round two as he did when he faced the Sharks in the opening series. Although he's only stopped three Detroit shots in the first half of the first period, Hiller has looked sharp and his positioning is flawless.
Perry's goal has silenced Joe Louis Arena for now, but we'll see how Detroit responds.
-- Matthew Cubeta
Lineups for Game 1
05.01.2009 1:33 PM ET
Things became a little crazy here at Joe Louis Arena this morning after Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock muttered these three words: “Rafalski’s not going.”
Yes, it’s true. Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski, who yesterday was awarded an “off day” according to Babcock, did not skate again this morning and is out for tonight’s game with what the team is calling an upper-body injury. His status is day-to-day.
That means that 47-year-old Chris Chelios makes his 2009 postseason debut tonight. Chelios will be paired with Brett Lebda, while Nicklas Lidstrom will be with Jonathan Ericsson. The usual tandem of Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall will not be broken up.
As for up front, here are Detroit’s lines heading into Game 1: Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom-Marian Hossa; Henrik Zetterberg-Johan Franzen-Dan Cleary; Valtteri Filppula-Jiri Hudler-Mikael Samuelsson; Darren Helm-Tomas Kopecky-Kirk Maltby.
Chris Osgood gets the nod in goal after his solid first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. But he may have more work to do tonight without one of his top defensemen in the lineup.
“We’d definitely like to take advantage, but they’ve got other guys that can step in and fill that role and can fill that role,” Ducks forward Corey Perry said. “He’s a big part of that team, but they’ve got other guys that can step up.”
Perry will obviously skate on Anaheim’s top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, forming one of the biggest and most dangerous lines in the NHL. The rest of the forward lines look like this: Erik Christensen-Andrew Ebbett-Teemu Selanne; Todd Marchant-Drew Miller-Rob Niedermayer; Petteri Nokelainen-Mike Brown-George Parros.
The defense is where Anaheim has vastly improved since GM Bob Murray acquired James Wisniewski and Ryan Whitney at the trade deadline. Not only are both solid in their own end, but they have the ability to contribute offensively.
Whitney has been paired with the hulking Chris Pronger, while Wisniewski is with future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer. Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Brookbank round out the defense.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle was asked how different his blue line has looked since the trades were made.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “We feel comfortable with our group on the back end. From a standpoint as to what difference it’s going to make, we’re going to have to prove it on the ice. We can do a lot of talking of who’s got this and they’ve got that, but the bottom line is you’ve got to go out and play. It’s about who can execute to a higher level and who can stay more disciplined.”
Other notes from the morning skate:
-- Getzlaf is excited about his team’s chances heading into this round, and why not? After all, Anaheim did just eliminate the President’s Trophy winners in San Jose.
“We know the task that’s ahead of us right now,” Getzlaf said. “We have to stay level-headed throughout this whole thing. We’re going to go in with the mentality that we did against San Jose.”
-- Selanne on what the Ducks have to do to oust the Red Wings: “Consistency’s the key. You have to be ready to play 60 minutes, and sometimes even more. We’re playing against a great hockey team. We have to be smart and not have too many turnovers. They have a lot of scoring power over there.”
-- Can Getzlaf continue his mastery of the Red Wings? The big forward had nine points in four games during the regular-season against Detroit, and his line was outstanding in the opening round against San Jose. Obviously, the Wings know they need to shut down – or at least contain – Getzlaf’s line in this best-of-seven, which scored 9 of Anaheim’s 18 goals against the Sharks.
“Getzlaf’s a real good player and he’s playing with two good players,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to do everything you can to slow them down. We’re going to have to work hard and compete hard against them. He’s a big man and he plays big minutes. It’s not going to be one set of ‘D.’ It’s going to have to be more than that.”
-- Brian Compton
Does it get any better?
04.30.2009 2:20 PM ET
Here we are at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, a little more than 24 hours before the Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks begin what should be a scintillating best-of-seven series.
Take a look at the rosters. Both teams have a ton of talent up front. Both teams have goaltenders who are playing well (especially Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller, who grabbed the No. 1 job from Jean-Sebastien Giguere and led the Ducks past the top-seeded San Jose Sharks in Round 1).
But on the blue lines … wow. When have we ever had a series that possessed this type of talent on defense?
Nicklas Lidstrom. Scott Niedermayer. Brian Rafalski. Chris Pronger.
And that’s just the top two on both sides. After today’s skate, Lidstrom was asked if he has ever been a part of a series that possessed such talent on both blue lines.
“I’d have to think hard about that one,” he said. “I think we’re solid in the back end, and they are as well. They have a lot of experience, and so do we. I think it’s a good matchup on the back end.”
Actually, it probably doesn’t get any better than this. Detroit coach Mike Babcock certainly didn’t hold back when the subject was brought up during his press conference.
“Nick, Niedermayer and Pronger … they’re upper-echelon D-men probably of all-time,” Babcock said. “They’re really special. I think Raffy is right there with those guys. (Niklas) Kronwall and (Francois) Beauchemin are upper-end guys. Then you have (Brad) Stuart and (Ryan) Whitney and (James) Wisniewski. There’s lots of good players.”
When the puck drops tomorrow night, the defensemen on the ice will have a combined eight Norris Trophies between them. Lidstrom has won six, while Niedermayer and Pronger have each won the award once. Oh, and if you count Detroit reserve defenseman Chris Chelios, the total would be raised to 11.
Lidstrom – who became the first European captain to hoist Lord Stanley last year – raved about Niedermayer’s ability to find open ice in the offensive zone.
“He’s an elite skater … he’s probably one of the best skaters in the League,” Lidstrom said. “Especially the power play … he’s so good at going to open spots. Whether it’s playing up front or playing the point, he moves around a lot. He’s good at reading plays and knowing where to be to get open.”
But what’s the difference between the two defenses?
“I think maybe they’re a bit more physical than we are,” Lidstrom admitted. “But we have a physical presence as well with Stuart and Kronwall … (but) they might have bigger bodies back there.”
Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby chimed in on the subject, too.
“They’re a dangerous team regardless of who’s up front because of their defense,” Maltby said. “You’ve got Niedermayer, who plays forward, defense … he’s a rover. He’s always a threat. Pronger’s got a shot, Beauchemin’s got a shot. When they have a goalie who’s playing like he’s playing, they can be a dangerous team. But there’s a lot of talent on both teams’ defense and a lot of Norris Trophies between them. It’s going to be a tough series.”
-- Red Wings forward Kris Draper (upper-body injury), who missed all four games against Columbus, will not be in the lineup tomorrow or Sunday. Draper will accompany the team to Anaheim for the two games in Southern California and hopes to be in the lineup for Game 3.
“I honestly thought I was going to get some good news today,” Draper said after skating this morning. “I’m a little disappointed. But I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. When the puck drops, I’ve got to turn into a fan. It’s tough. At this time of year, it’s no fun. This is when everyone wants to play.”
-- The most intriguing aspect heading into the start of this series is the difference in team discipline. Detroit took the second-fewest penalties in the League and had just 11 fighting majors all season. Anaheim, on the other hand, dropped the gloves 82 times and was the second-most penalized club.
Naturally, the Red Wings will do their best to avoid any funny stuff with the Ducks. You certainly don’t want to give weapons such as Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan an opportunity to operate on the power play.
“We can’t afford that against a team like Anaheim,” Kronwall said. “They’re playing so well on the power play and they’ve got some guys that can really score and shoot the puck. We can’t take too many retaliation penalties. We just can’t afford that.”
That being said, the Red Wings aren’t interested in being pushed around, either. They’ll simply have to walk that fine line of establishing a physical presence while trying to stay out of the penalty box.
“That’s very important … it’s one of the things we were trying to look after in the first round against Columbus,” Kronwall said. “Hopefully we can continue doing that.
“It’s good battles and two teams that are trying to play as physical as possible. It’s very intense. It’s fun playing in games like that.”
It won’t be fun for guys like Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen, who will be asked to do their usual dirty work in front of the net. But Franzen knows that’s going to be the Wings’ best chance against Hiller, who was tremendous in the first round. Hiller posted a .957 save percentage against San Jose.
“It’s really hard scoring from outside … you’ve got to get traffic in there,” Franzen said. “I think almost all of our goals have been like that.
-- Don’t expect Detroit to use just one line against the powerful trio of Getzlaf, Ryan and Corey Perry. Because of the amount of ice time Anaheim’s top line receives, Babcock knows that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are going to need some help.
“We can’t play one line against them … that’s too much,” Babcock said. “We’ll play Pav and ‘Z’ against them. (Franzen) also takes faceoffs. Same with (Dan) Cleary.”
-- Maltby on if he was surprised at Anaheim’s ability to win its opening-round series against the top-seeded San Jose Sharks:
“I don’t know if they handled them, but they played well,” Maltby said. “Coming in as a No. 8 seed … nowadays, an 8-seed isn’t like it was in the early ‘90s. I think they’re a lot better team than they had in the course of the season. They didn’t find their game, for whatever reason. A lot of people wrote them off and thought they were writing themselves off when they started making some trades, but obviously those trades worked out for them. They’ve still got a lot of great players there.”
Wings goalie Chris Osgood agreed. Because of the amount of skill that will be on the other side of the ice – not to mention his own – Osgood is expecting a dynamite series.
“It’s fast-paced, a lot of hitting,” he said when asked to critique a typical Detroit-Anaheim showdown. “I think it’s two teams that like playing against each other, but hate it.”
-- Cleary and Rafalski did not skate this morning. Babcock, though, assured reporters that Rafalski – who forms one of the top defensive pairings in the League alongside Lidstrom -- will be in the lineup for Game 1.
“Raf, it was basically just a day (off),” Babcock said. “Clears is sick.”
-- Last year, he didn’t make the cut. This time around, though, Chelios was named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
“Obviously, that’s the biggest reason why I’ve been around this long … perseverance,” said Chelios, who turned 47 in January. “Crazy, I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s an honor to be chosen. When a team has success, individuals tend to prosper. I think that seems to be the case here. It’s nice.
“Thanks … I owe you guys dinner.”
-- Brian Compton
Wings, Ducks are familiar foes
04.29.2009 02:41 PM ET
The Red Wings and the Ducks have met four times in the playoffs prior to this matchup.
The first two times, in 1997 and 1999, the Red Wings were clearly the superior team, sweeping the Ducks.
The next two times, however, the Ducks prevailed. Anaheim's first series victory against Detroit came in 2003 when the Ducks swept the series. Anaheim's victory in the Western Conference Finals in 2007 was the only one of the four series that wasn't decided by a sweep.
The winner of all four of these series made it to the Stanley Cup Final that season and three of them won the Cup.
While many onlookers think that the Pittsburgh-Washington series has the most star power with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins and Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green for the Capitals, this series is easily comparable with Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Getzlaf and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. And these teams don't have to grow a hatred for one another because it is already embedded from their playoff past, particularly with most of the 2007 Ducks Cup-winning team still in tact.
-- Adam Schwartz