22 April 2009

Ready With the Brooms (Wings 4, Blue Jackets 1)

For 67 seconds the Columbus Blue Jackets and 19,212 of their fans (give or take a few, including Wings blogger Christy who made the trip to watch the game) basked in the exhilaration of the first ever post-season game played at Nationwide Arena, the goal they spent this entire season fighting to achieve. 67 seconds before Tomas Holmstrom scored the opening goal, took the wind out of the crowd's sales, and began yet another thrashing of the team unlucky enough to draw the defending champs.

Meanwhile, a slightly smaller group of us watched from Hockeytown Cafe, the sight of @cjsier's Detroit NHLTweetup, as the Wings ended up winning the game 4-1, taking a 3-0 lead in the series and all but sealing their place in the semi-finals.

Christine and your intrepid blogger (we're in the middle), having forced everyone to put on their playoff beards.

Home ice advantage did little for the Blue Jackets - in fact, rather than the crowd's electricity spurring on the players to victory, it was instead, according to Sarah of The Neutral Zone Trap, the team's lackluster performance that deflated the fans: The building was just crackling with electricity, and the Jackets’ defense broke down a minute in, Detroit scored, and the life started to go out of the crowd. They hung on for awhile, tried to get the team going, but the boo birds were out in the second period, and it was just funereal by the third. Disappointing for Blue Jackets fans, but exactly what we here in Detroit want to hear.

Interesting Stats & notes:
  • Chris Osgood's shutout streak was finally snapped last night, at 144:27 of goal-less game play. After three games, Osgood's stats have stayed strong - the playoff veteran, no longer hearing much comment about his unsteady play throughout the regular season, has stopped 76 of 78 shots in the past three games, holds a .67 GAA and a .974 SV%. Meanwhile, the Jackets rookie phenom and Calder Trophy nominee Steve Mason sits at an uninspiring 3.67 GAA, .888 SV%. For three games straight Mason has allowed four goals - not at all what Columbus, or most of the media covering this series, expected.
  • The Wings continue to get point contributions from nearly their entire roster. The team's 12 goals have now come from 9 different players (Jiri Hudler has 2, Henrik Zetterberg has 3), and 14 players have points. Meanwhile, R.J. Umberger remains the only Blue Jacket to score, once in Game 1 and once in Game 3.
  • Picking up where they left off in the playoffs this past season, the Wings have returned to the physical play that took them to the finals last season. Brad Stuart absolutely leveleing Umberger was the high point last night - unbelievably, Umberger returned before the game was over. More importantly than just being physical, the Wings are being smart about being physical, and it's getting noticed: “They check hard,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Wings. “Everybody talks about their skill, but Detroit wins the fight for space, individually and collectively. That’s why they win so many hockey games. Yeah, they have skill, but in critical games, they win the fight for space. Regardless of what happens, if you don’t fight for your own space, you’re going to get run out of the building. They beat a lot of good teams by doing that.” Of course, the Wings have a whole lot of skill to back up that physicality, as well. (The Jackets, on the other hand, can't even seem to get hitting right, right now. Either that, or Mike Commodore just wanted to see what it's like to be on the winning bench that badly!)
The Wings hope to close the series out tomorrow night at 7 pm - the Wings certainly have to keep up the pace they've set so far and not let their collective feet off the gas, but here's to hoping for the sweep. GO WINGS!


Kirsten said...

You're back! I missed you, lady!

Ready to have some roast duck for supper?

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