Oh, nothing to see here. Move on…
For the Wings, it was no Lidstrom, no Datsyuk; no problem. And, the Wings’ transition game continues to be the difference in a series that certainly isn’t as close as it seemed 24 hours ago.
The game started poorly and wouldn’t get any better. After Henrik Zetterberg took a holding call on Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker rattled a long range shot off the post on the power play. A Wing found himself without a stick, and the Hawks sustained pressure on the man advantage; that is, until four Hawks got caught below the Wings’ goal line chasing a dump-in. A loose puck squirted out to Marian Hossa along the half-boards, and he and Valtteri Filppula went in on a 2-on-1. Hossa received a give-and-go pass back right in front of Cristobal Huet, and gave the Wings a lead they wouldn’t lose.
A little more than 10 minutes later, Johan Franzen scored a mirror image of the first goal of the series tallied by Daniel Cleary on Nikolai Khabibulin. Franzen skated down the boards on Huet’s glove side and flipped a weak wrist shot that beat Huet to the far side.
Then, it happened: a seemingly routine dust-up involving each of the players out on the ice following the first period. But, when the Blackhawks emerged from the dressing room for the second period, Joel Quenneville was told Matt Walker received a penalty for roughing. Quenneville turned redder than the Red Wings home sweater, screaming at the referees. Filppula scored on the ensuing power play, and Quenneville called the roughing penalty “the worst call in the history of sports” in his post-game news conference.
After Detroit’s Brett Lebda put a puck into the stands, Jonathan Toews scored his seventh of the playoffs on the power play. But, the story of the power play was what happened just after it. Just 12 seconds following the Hawks’ lone tally, Marian Hossa found himself in behind Brian Campbell. He fought off Kris Versteeg en route to the net, and put another puck past Huet. The goal essentially erased the Hawks’ tally and signaled the end of any fight the Hawks had.
After that, the Hawks took 12 penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct for Eager and back-to-back penalties for Kris Versteeg. The first was a blatant cross check, and the second was a roughing call received on his way out to the play from the penalty box. Though the second was nearly as bad as the Matt Walker call, it highlighted the Hawks’ struggle to compete while maintaining composure in the late stages of the game. Zetterberg would take advantage of the penalties, scoring the Wings’ fifth and sixth goals of the game.
Leftover Thoughts from Game Four:
– The Matt Walker play was indeed a phantom call. While it may not have been the “worst call in the history of sports,” it allowed the Wings to take a three-goal lead just before the Hawks would score their own power play tally. What could have been a one-goal game was a two-goal defecit.
The bad news? It wouldn’t have mattered. The Hawks weren’t even close on Sunday afternoon. The referees could have given Hossa and Zetterberg Game Misconducts in the first period, and the Hawks still would have lost.
– Of course, Cristobal Huet was pulled (and later re-inserted) during Sunday’s game. Huet was undoubtedly awful, but he’ll have to recover for Wendesday’s game in Detroit, which he’ll start.
While it certainly makes the Blackhawks’ offseason goaltending situation more interesting, I’ll make it less intriguing for you: the Hawks aren’t re-signing Khabibulin. Unless the economy destroys his market, Khabby will go take decent money for decent years elsewhere. The Hawks cannot offer him that.
– Martin Havlat was again knocked out of Sunday’s tilt. He looked out of it during his heavy minutes in the first period, and I’d again be surprised if he played Wednesday.
– A lot of Chicagoans are angry with Eddie Olczyk’s non-homerism on the Versus and/or NBC telecast. What’s much freakier, though, is Pierre McGuire’s intermission orgies with Mike Millbury.
McGuire enjoys role playing with Millbury, asking the former Bruin to “be the coach” while McGuire tries his best to hold down a massive erection. Then, McGuire gets his opportunity to play the coach, telling the world what Mike Babcock must be telling his team before that particular period.
Pierre, you’re freaking me out. And, you’re getting me horny.