started the playoffs on the bench. The way he’s playing now, he’s not likely to be back there any time soon.
Osgood has been unbeaten -- and almost unbeatable -- since he took over for Dominik Hasek
early in Game 4 of the Detroit Red Wings
’ first-round series against Nashville. He didn’t give up a goal the rest of the way in a 3-2 loss, and the Wings haven’t lost again.
Osgood has won all nine games since then, allowing just 14 goals for a 1.47 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He’s allowed three goals or fewer in all nine starts.
Entering Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against Dallas on Thursday night, he’s allowed just four goals in three games against the Stars. One more win and he’ll be on the way to his first Final since leading the Wings to the Stanley Cup in 1998
-- Five players who’ve stepped it up:
-- Zetterberg has arguably been the best player in this year’s playoffs. He was a big reason that Detroit blitzed Colorado in the second round, and has been equally as important in the Wings’ domination of Dallas. Zetterberg is 2-3-5 in the three Western Conference Finals games, with a game-winner on the power play in Game 2 and a backbreaking shorthanded goal in Game 3.
-- Zetterberg’s linemate rang up his first playoff hat trick in Game 3 against Dallas. His 17 points are among the leaders in this year’s playoffs, and his plus-11 rating is second in the League behind Zetterberg’s plus-13.
– Pittsburgh’s second-line center has been the Penguins’ best player throughout the playoffs, and won Game 1 of the Eastern Finals with a pair of spectacular goals. He added an assist in Game 3 and has 18 points, one off the League lead.
-- Richards scored three of Philadelphia’s five goals in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals against Pittsburgh and has been one of the few Flyers who’ve had an offensive spark in the series.
-- Very quietly, Crosby has taken the postseason lead in points with 19, including a pair of assists in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win in Game 3. He’s stepped up his game against the Flyers, answering their efforts to bang him around with two goals and three assists in three games.
-- Five players who haven’t:
– The Dallas goalie has not been nearly as good in the Western Finals against Detroit as he was in the first two rounds against Anaheim and San Jose. He’s allowed 11 goals in three games, including five on just 21 shots in a 5-2 loss in Game 3.
– The speedy Briere was very good for the Flyers in their victories against Washington and Montreal, but he’s been stifled by the Penguins: His assist on Philadelphia’s lone goal Tuesday night was his first point in the series.
-- The Stars got little from many of their big guns in the first three games against Detroit. That includes Modano, who has just one assist in three games against the Wings after going 4-6-10 in 12 games in the first two rounds.
– The Flyers goalie hasn’t been awful for the Flyers against Pittsburgh, but he hasn’t been making the big saves he did in the first two rounds. He’s allowed 10 goals in three games.
-- It’s been a miserable series for Ribeiro, who has just one point in Dallas’ three losses in Detroit, took a match penalty at the end of Game 2, and is getting clobbered in the faceoff circle -- he lost 20 of 28 in the first two games and both of the two he took in Game 3.
Injuries, news and notes
-- It’s been a tough offseason for coaches. Three more were let go in the last week -- Joel Quenneville
by Colorado, Ron Wilson by San Jose and Paul Maurice
by Toronto. Florida’s job is also vacant, and Ottawa’s could be if GM Bryan Murray decides not to handle both jobs.
-- Philadelphia’s defense had a tough week. The Flyers lost their best blueliner, Kimmo Timonen
, with a blood clot in his foot on the night before the opener of the Eastern Conference Finals against Pittsburgh. Another top-four defenseman, Braydon Coburn
, had to leave early in Game 2 after taking a puck in the face. He needed 50 stitches to close a cut around his eye, didn’t return and missed Game 3. … Detroit has been without its top playoff goal-scorer, Johan Franzen
, for Games 2 and 3 of the Western Finals against Dallas. The Wings announced before the pregame skate in Game 2 that Franzen would not play due to concussion-like symptoms. He went for tests, but there’s no word on when he’ll be back. … Dallas lost forward Jere Lehtinen
in the first period of Game 2 against Detroit with a leg injury. He didn’t play in Game 3.
-- Maxime Talbot
returned to Pittsburgh’s lineup for Sunday’s Game 2 against Philadelphia after missing three games with a fractured foot. He quickly made his presence felt by scoring the go-ahead goal in the Penguins’ 4-2 win. … Detroit forward Kirk Maltby
, out for more than a month with a hamstring injury, finally got back into the Wings’ lineup for the series against Dallas. He hadn’t played since April 2.
-- Dallas defenseman Philippe Boucher
is working out off the ice, but he’s still not ready to return to the Stars' lineup. Boucher has been out since April 17 with a strained hip. Stars forward Stu Barnes
has missed Dallas’ last six playoff games with a concussion. … Pittsburgh defenseman Mark Eaton
, out since December after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, is scheduled to have an MRI this week to determine the knee’s health. Don’t expect him back this season.
-- Boston goaltender Tim Thomas
should be ready for the start of the 2008-09 season after suffering a knee injury while playing for Team USA at the World Hockey Championships. Bruins teammate Glen Murray
recently underwent surgery on his right ankle. … Tampa Bay center Jeff Halpern
, who was Team USA’s captain, sustained a ruptured ACL, a Grade III sprain of his MCL, and a slight tear of the lateral meniscus in his right knee last week against Canada. He won’t be able to play for several months. … St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace
recently had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and should be ready for training camp in the fall. … San Jose forward Patrick Rissmiller
will need surgery to fix a sports hernia, while Mike Grier
(right knee) and Devin Setoguchi
(left shoulder) also need surgery. Several other Sharks, including Joe Thornton
(knee) and Patrick Marleau
(shoulder) will have MRIs.
The week ahead
-- With both semifinal series possibly over before the weekend, the Stanley Cup Final could start next week.
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
: The Flyers will try to stay alive with a win Thursday night at home. If they do, the teams have two days off before Sunday’s Game 5 in Pittsburgh.
Dallas vs. Detroit
: The Wings could clinch as early as tonight if they complete their second-straight sweep. If Dallas wins Game 4, both teams get two days of rest before the series resumes Saturday afternoon in Detroit.