Yesterday morning I made the comment that, since I was only going to be able to catch the first two periods of the game before having to get to campus for my commencement, "If the Wings aren't winning - and I mean blowout here - when I have to leave, there's going to be blood." While that may have been just a little hyperbolic, I certainly didn't expect the team to take such pity on my horrible luck with NBC broadcasts and do exactly that - it was 4-0 when I left for the ceremony, and when I announced the final 5-1 score, a quiet but enthused cheer snaked its way down my row of graduates.
I missed a portion of the first period as well, because the bar I was at was full of people more interested in the NFL draft - I wished I'd heard Joe Hass' logic on the matter sooner so I'd had it to toss at them: "You can either watch Matt Millen make a mistake, or listen to the Wings fans chant “FIRE MILLEN!” after they announce the draft pick." I only missed the first few minutes though, and as soon as managed to get a bartender to make the switch I was rewarded with Johan Franzen's first goal of the night.
The Wings came out strong, playing hard, fast, dominant hockey, which was great to see after the Nashville series that oftentimes had the Wings starting out a little slower. This time they beat the Avs down from the beginning and allowed them no means of coming back. The game seemed tilted in the Wings' favor right from the beginning - Brad Stuart's wife had her baby over in LA and having taken care of things out there he came in to replace Andreas Lilja, so the Wings regained a strong defensive force while the Avs lost Wojtek Wolski for the series, and were also missing Peter Forsberg and Scott Hannan last night. Jose Theodore (being known as Jose Three-or-Four over at A2Y, which I love) did start in net, but was pulled once more after allowing four goals - he's apparently still "sick".
The Wings are played great hockey this series, and most importantly they're playing deep hockey. The Selke nominated Eurotwins impress as usual, but the second line of Franzen, Valtteri Filppula (who got impressively physical with Adam Foote last night), and Mikael Samuelsson are putting up points like there's no tomorrow, and the Jiri Hudler, Darren McCarty and Darren Helm line is quite the presence as well. It's great to see the talent shining from all places, and it's great that this allows for the big line to stay together - as good as they play apart, their best hockey happens when they're together. When the Wings play like they did last night there's just no stopping the pressure. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, they collapsed underneath it.
To their credit the Avs tried just about everything they could to get motivated and claw back into the game. After Franzen's second, Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg each notched one for the Wings, and the Avalanche looked to be out for the blood the Wings were saving me from having to spill at commencement. McCarty dropped the gloves for the first time with the Wings since his return, against Cody McCormick as the Avs tried desperately to gain some sort of momentum. With a 4-0 lead and a blatant challenge, I'm glad McCarty showed what he's (still) made of. Unfortunately for the Avalanche the fight did little to help and was followed by a string of penalties that ended the Wings up with nearly three minutes of 5 on 3 time. Peter Budaj, then in net, helped them hold the Wings off but by that point it was too little too late.
I missed the third period, but while it sounds like the Wings took their foot off the gas and made a couple sloppy plays at the beginning, the turned it around quickly and in the end it worked out all right. Joe has the liveblog here.
Both teams get a bit of a break as Game 3 in Colorado isn't until Tuesday. It's inarguable that this has become the Wings' series to lose, but the team is remiss if they don't expect at least a bit more effort coming from the Avalanche in their own building. Whether or not they get Forsberg and Hannan back (Darren McCarty thinks Foppa at least, will be back - "I'm pretty sure that, unless Forsberg's legs gonna fall off, he'll probably be in there for Game 3."), and regardless of who starts in net (one has to imagine it will be Budaj, but they seem to continue believing in Theodore), the Wings need to keep playing the way they did in Game 2, and not let this early lead allow for the debacle Game 1 almost became - or we'll be the ones making this sort of game recap post.
News on Octopusgate:
- I explained the matter to Elly who said: "But how about fighting? That gets people matter all over the ice." Good point. How about that, Mr. Bettman?
- Freep blogger proves that "matter" does not indeed fly off of the octopus at all - I hope he really did mail out the shower curtain he used in the experiment.
- Linesmen have to shovel the octopi up off the ice now - which takes longer and makes more of a octopi mattery mess. Al Sobotka doesn't seem too dissuaded by the new rules and twirled the octopus in the tunnel instead, an image that was put up on the Jumbotron. Unfortunately the NHL didn't like that either. What a bunch of crap.