-- Rubber was flying all over the place in the Detroit-Calgary series. But one goalie was pelted far more often than his counterpart across the rink.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff saw 126 more shots on goal ? that's an average of 21 more per game -- than Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek did throughout the six game series.
And although Kiprusoff's top-notch play was one of the popular stories through the opening round, Hasek's team came away with the series victory. The 42-year-old veteran did his job rather quietly - only seeing an average of 21.5 shots per game - but he did it well. The ever-efficient Hasek never gave up more than three goals in any game, and let in only one in each of the four wins.
Some goalies might resent the lack of public attention Hasek received after an opening series victory, but The Dominator doesn't seem to mind.
"Every game is about the win, that's number one," Hasek said.
|Kiprusoff saw 126 more shots that his counterpart Hasek. He he's hit in the facemask by a Henrik Zetterberg shot in Game 2. (Tom Turrill) |
In fact, a lack of action in one's own end can be difficult for netminders, as they can have a hard time staying mentally involved when the play is primarily out of the defensive zone.
"You have to stay focused and concentrate no matter how many shots you face," Hasek said. "It's hard for the goalie if you don't face too many shots, but the whole point is to win the game and it doesn't matter how many shots you face."
The Wings' Round 2 match-up against San Jose promises to be less hospitable for Hasek. Joe Thornton, Jonathon Cheechoo, Patrick Marleau and the Sharks' other skillful forwards present a formidable challenge for Hasek and the Wings.
"Offensively they are a better team than Calgary," Hasek said, "and I expect more shots than I faced against the Flames."
Some concern has generated over Hasek's durability and how he will handle the wear-and-tear of the playoff grind. The constant flights to the Pacific Time Zone, combined with an unrelenting game schedule has gotten the best of other players before, but Hasek says he feels as well as he did years ago and doesn't expect lingering effects from the Calgary series.
And while Hasek was the only goalie deployed by Detroit in Round 1, backup goalie Chris Osgood has been there to support and encourage his teammate while waiting to be called upon. Osgood saw action in 21 regular-season games, thus giving Hasek time to rest for what hopes to be a long playoff run.
"It's tough because you always want to play; you don't like not playing," Osgood said. "Everybody has their role, you have to deal with it the best you can. You just got to stay game-ready; you don't want to have any thoughts in the back of your mind if you're not ready to play."
Both Osgood and Hasek have been significant factors behind the Wings' winning ways this season. The duo's success shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as both goalies have lead the Red Wings to Stanley Cup championships as the starter in past seasons. Osgood won Cups with Detroit in 1997 as the backup, and in 1998 as the starter. Hasek won a Cup in Detroit as the starter in 2002.
While this season's team is different in many ways from past Cup-winning squads, this team has many championship qualities that Hasek likes.
"We are a different team, different players from that team, but still there is experience in this locker room," Hasek said referring to the 2002 team. "(We have) players who won the Cup and we have some kids who are hungry to win the Cup, so the team is different, but I think it is the same."