Game 4: Red Wings 6, Blackhawks 1

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.

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9 Responses to Game 4: Red Wings 6, Blackhawks 1

  1. DPH says:

    I don’t understand the focus on the Walker penalty. Are we kidding ourselves (I am speaking more to Coach Q than anyone else)? One two minute penalty is a game changer? Do you know how many bad calls happened in this series, as many to Detroit as to us? Look at period one in Game 3.

    Also, since when did hockey cease to be about scoring and become a World’s Toughest Man contest? The rest of the league is showcasing Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Datsuyk, Zetterberg, Franzen and rightly so. Just as we should showcase Toews and Kane and Sharp. When clowns like Versteeg (please) and Eager act up, they look like little brothers swinging at their older sibling who is holding them back with a hand on top of their head. WHO CARES WHO’S TOUGHER? I care who wins.

    Being tough is important, but that means being physical in the flow of the game, giving hits and taking hits. Kronwall is an example – as hated as he is – of that. Hit hard, hit legal (mostly) and pass on “challenges” to his manhood and to fight. Do you know that Datsuyk leads the Wings in hits over the course of the year?

    The Hawks need to skate like they did in period one of game three. They were faster, I think, than the vaunted Wings, and better with the pressure. Let speed and youth wear them down a little and get them thinking, “We’ll get them in game six.” Come on, Q, stop whining and start coaching hockey.

  2. Lou says:

    The tough part about the Walker call was when and how it was made. Hard to call a post period extracurricular roughing call against just one guy. It changes your coaching strategy for the ensuing period. Call probably should have been made at the end of the period.

    The game changers were the shorty, the goal in that last minute and the goal in the first seconds after we just scored. My coaches always told us that the most dangerous times are the first minute and last minute of halves and the first minute after you score. Surprise, it killed us yesterday.

    Troy Murray said it best if you are gonna take all of those penalties leave em marked up. We didn’t do that, so your analogy of the the little brother thing is right on.

    We have to play our game and win game 5.

  3. DPH says:

    I coach PeeWee hockey and we love when we encounter another team that is more consumed with hitting than position. Often checking – especially when attempted by 11 and 12 year olds – means a high risk of getting out of position, particularly in the open ice (the corners being a little more contained). So we instruct our boys to not go for the open ice checks at all. These are the ESPN checks, the “hospital” checks, as we call ’em, and they usually are the favorite check of an immature kid. They typically miss and the result is that the checker is out of the play for a short stretch.

    Campbell demonstrated this with his attempted check on the Detroit rush that let Hossa in on Versteeg. I got the feeling Detroit was relishing the “chippiness” of the Hawks because it meant opportunities. Now, Detroit is not guiltless – they are wily bastards at annoying up to the point of a penalty call – subtle interference, small elbows, didn’t Franzen pull out someone’s mouthguard??

    I think this all comes back to Q. There have been extended stretches where we have dominated Detroit with speed, crashing the net, forechecking – very good, very intense hockey. That is available to us. What does Q accomplish by his little bitch session? He accomplishes the act of Versteeg and Eager. Why not take that opportunity to tell your boys to ignore retaliation and the obvious physical stuff and fly on our young legs all around the ice, fly to the net, fly to the corners, forecheck and backcheck like demons and suffocate Detroit. Q needs to go. He is a retread.

  4. Lou says:

    Great points, but probably easier said then done on controlling the exhuberence of NHL youth.

    The Campbell play happened b/c we were still celebrating and not focuse back on the game. Either way, you said it Coaching comes into play.

    I’d like to be in Q’s shoes with the nucleus of skill to work with. You can skate the stupidity out doing Herbies at practice or sit shifts like he has done before.

  5. John says:

    DPH, since you are a coach, you should know more than anyone that players will always have a mind of their own. Q could’ve very well expounded on your exact points but it doesn’t mean a thing if the players aren’t executing.

    Frustration got the best of everyone yesterday, it happens.

    Since you want Q ousted, maybe we should look into hiring Tony Granato. That seemed to work out pretty well for Colorado this year.

  6. DPH says:

    OK, so you believe that Q was counselling playing smart hockey? If that’s the case, then I am wrong. However, if that were the case, I would think his reaction to Versteeg’s consecutive penalities and Eager childishness would have been on display? Also, Q has a history with the Wings of thugging it up, as see in this YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R95CWh8CKcg

    I am hardly anything more than a PeeWee coach, but if I had a player that did what Versteeg did, I would have sat him the rest of the game.

  7. Lou says:

    It is a young team that unfortunately let emotions get the better of them.

    Maybe Steeg should have sat. Maybe with Havlat struggling we had to play him. I am not sure what thugging up took place yesterday. We didn’t get anybody with it. Gooning it up was the brawl against Vancouver.

    Coach Q might be dealing with Steeg and Eager tomorrow in practice. After he has a chance to see the replays. We’ll never really know. One thing I admire about this team is that it does not say much to outsiders and they have good chemistry. So we won’t hear what is said and that is how it should be.

  8. Sox Machine says:

    “Since you want Q ousted, maybe we should look into hiring Tony Granato. That seemed to work out pretty well for Colorado this year.”

    Downers Grove in the hizzouse!

  9. JD Noce says:

    What a horrible performance, yesterday. I told my wife when I got home that I didn’t even feel like I was just at a hockey game.

    FF, and the commenters…as usual…great stuff.

    Some thoughts on the comments:

    1. The Walker penalty was horrific. We all agree. But, to tell you the truth, the game may have been lost before that.

    I still view Detroit’s second goal by Franzen as the ‘stomach punch’ moment. The Hawks got outplayed for 20 minutes, and STILL were about to get out of the period down only 1-0. Then, that weak pile of crud goes past Huet. Just horrible.

    2. I was in the 300’s and had a bird’s-eye view of Versteeg’s first penalty. It was one of the stupidest decisions I’ve seen by a Blackhawk all year. What made it worse, is that it looked completely pre-meditated. Versteeg was so frustrated by the turn of events, that he went out of his way to make a stupid play. I turned to my buddy next to me and said, ‘they just got a 5 on 3, this one’s over.’
    He went out of his way to end the game. Disgusting. The second penalty was a bit bogus.

    3. The refs were horrible. No doubt. But, to tell you the truth…if the refs call things straight, and let them play….Hawks still lose.

    4. Calling out Q is dead on. The man has done a FANTASTIC job this season, but I was a bit miffed by his handling of this game. He was never able to cool down himself, or his players. That is very un-Q like. I don’t count on Q having a game like this again.
    He looked just as frustrated as I was…the only problem is…when you are the coach…you just can’t be. You gotta be the bigger guy.

    Just a total meltdown on all levels.

    Here’s to hopin our Hawks can get this series back to Chicago.

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