May 19, 2009
They needed a split.
The Chicago Blackhawks could still go home, get jacked up by their home fans and win Game 3. It could happen.
But it doesn't change the fact that the Stanley Cup champions need two wins in five games for the conference title. And it doesn't change the fact that the inexperienced, jittery newbies are the team in the hole and the efficient, unflappable hockey assassins are the ones with the shovel and the 2-0 lead.
The Detroit Red Wings rested on their laurels in the third period and got caught on Jonathan Toews's(notes) deflection goal, his second of the game. But the seeds of their eventual victory were planted later in the third, when the Wings seemed one good pass away from converting any number of odd-man rushes. At 5:14 of OT, Valtteri Filppula(notes) made the good pass and Mikael Samuelsson(notes) made a better shot on a 3-on-1 break to end it.
But winning the conference championship? Down 2-0, with Chris Osgood(notes) confidently snagging shots and Detroit winning 3-2 games without a point from Hossa or Zetterberg or Franzen or Holmstrom? After throwing everything they had at the Wings in Game 2 and coming up a goal short?
Forget the Indian; commit to the delusional optimism. Stranger things have happened. But not usually at the expense of a team as venerable as Detroit.
A few thoughts on Game 2:
• Both Dan Cleary's breakaway goal and Samuelsson's game-winner were off of turnovers from Hawks defensemen. Brian Campbell's(notes) gift in overtime -- a pass near the point that Samuelsson stole and raced away with -- was a heartbreaker, as Soupy had played an fantastic game until that point.
• Chris Osgood made 37 saves tonight, including 18 in the first period. Both goals were off deflections. Cool and confident, and not at all looking like a goalie that is going to be beaten in four of the next five games.
• Patrick Kane(notes) played 19:25 and had three shots on goal, one blocked and two missed. He's now a minus-5 for the series. One assumes he'll be better on home ice. He can't be much worse. Incidentally, ESPN's interview with Kane is one of the most blissfully strange things we've read in a while [H/T Curl].
• Finally, for all the physicality the Blackhawks threw at Detroit early in this game, thanks in large part to players like Ben Eager(notes), the hits ended up 37 apiece -- reaffirming the Wings as the hardest hitting "soft" team in the NHL.