May 24, 2009
No. 1 star, Marian Hossa(notes), Detroit Red Wings:
The veteran winger scored Detroit's two biggest goals of Sunday's Game 4 rout. His short-handed effort at 8:41 of the first period not only broke a scoreless tie, but set the tone for the afternoon of extreme disappointment for Chicago. The Blackhawks simply couldn't afford to allow a goal when they were on the power play, trying to rebound from a 2-1 series deficit, and knowing the next game is in Detroit. Hossa's second of the game, and sixth of the postseason, was even more pivotal: It came just 12 seconds after Chicago scored its first goal to tease fans into thinking it could rally again.
No. 2 star, Valtteri Filppula(notes), Detroit Red Wings:
A goal and two assists was a pretty good imitation of what injured and unavailable Pavel Datsyuk(notes) might have contributed. Filppula provided yet another example of how many interchangeable parts the Red Wings have at their disposal.
No. 3 star, Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings:
With the luxury of a four-goal lead and all the momentum he could ask for, the savvy coach lifted goalie Chris Osgood(notes) after two periods in Game 4, a move that accomplished two things – gave Osgood a head start in terms of rest and mental preparation for Wednesday's upcoming clinching win, uh, er, Game 5 in Detroit and gave backup Ty Conklin(notes) some live bullets in case he's needed at some point during the Wings' inevitable march to their second straight Stanley Cup and 12th championship trophy overall.
Major penalty: Chicago coach Joel Quenneville threw a hissy fit at the outset of the second period that not only failed to get any favors from the officials, but provided the exact wrong example for his team. Suddenly, instead of focusing on changing momentum, the Blackhawks became a very undisciplined, selfish team and took minor penalty after minor penalty that enabled Detroit to put the game away early.
Minor penalty: Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet(notes) had to stop Johan Franzen's(notes) wrister just 21 seconds before the first intermission because: a) it wasn't that difficult of a save (Huet was too deep to cut down the angle to the far corner) and, b) it's the wrong time to give up a goal – Chicago headed right into intermission, heads down, trailing 2-0 instead of trying to regroup from only a 1-0 deficit.
Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Evgeni Malkin(notes), Penguins; 2. Johan Franzen, Red Wings; 3. Sidney Crosby(notes), Penguins; 4. Henrik Zetterberg(notes), Red Wings; 5. Chris Osgood, Red Wings; 6. Cam Ward(notes), Hurricanes; 7. Marc-Andre Fleury(notes), Penguins; 8. Marian Hossa, Red Wings; 9. Jonathan Toews(notes), Blackhawks; 10. Eric Staal(notes), Hurricanes.