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Three Questions: Wings-Blue Jackets

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
How did Chris Osgood do?

Questions surrounded the Wings’ goaltending heading into the playoffs, but Osgood apparently wasn’t listening. The Wings’ goalie stood on his head in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series, turning aside 20 shots to lead his team to a 4-1 win.

Osgood stole the show from the goaltender everybody was talking about (Columbus rookie Steve Mason) and was named the first star of the night. It wasn’t just his 20 saves, but it was when and how he made them. Osgood had a tremendous first period, stopping 14 shots. He silenced his critics in the opening minute, when he dove from post to post to keep forward Jason Chimera for scoring on an empty net. He helped the Wings kill off an early five-on-three opportunity for the Blue Jackets. But his best save of the first period came against forward R.J. Umberger with 7:14 left. That's when Umberger, on a two-on-one, cut to the Detroit goal, and had his initial shot blocked. He fired a rebound chance towards the goal, and with little room to react, Osgood snatched the puck out of midair with his glove and kept it from crossing the goal line.

He kept his team in the game early, and his forwards and defense paid him back in the second and third with four goals to get him the win. Osgood was the key to holding the Blue Jackets’ power-play unit scoreless in a variety of opportunities. They were 0-3 on the five-on-four, 0-1 on a five-on-three, and 0-1 on a four-on-three. He had the respect of the Joe Louis Arena crowd the whole night, and repeatedly heard chants of “Ozzie, Ozzie”.

What was the trick to scoring?

The Wings knew they were going to have a little trouble beating Mason Thursday, and that they would need to get traffic out in front of him. It’s no coincidence that the Wings jumped out to a lead in the second period with goals from defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall. Ericsson scored his first career playoff goal at the 14:21 mark, because his shot hit a glove en route to the goal and fooled Mason. Kronwall’s blast just a minute later, made its way through a crowd as well. From that point on, the Wings were in Mason’s head.

What else did the Wings do right?

To win in the playoffs, you have to get help on the score sheet from everywhere. The Wings had goals from their defense, but they also had great performances by their secondary scorers. The line of Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson line really stood out in Game 1. Filppula had two assists, Hudler had a goal and an assist, and Samuelsson picked up an assist, as the line contributed on three of the Wings’ four goals. Hudler’s goal was possibly the goal of the night. Filppula walked towards the Blue Jackets’ goal, and avoided the defense’s attempts at disrupting his play. He then feathered a soft pass to Hudler right in front of the goal, and Hudler made no mistake burying the puck for the game’s first goal.

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