Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, and Larry Murphy. These were the names seen on Red Wings jersey’s (as well as the Stanley Cup for various championships) for years. These guys were in their 30′s and 40′s and lead the team through what is has continued as 22 year playoff appearance streak. For so long, “old guys” lead the way. But the Chicago Blackhawks are finding out that these the “old” Detroit Red Wings of the past, and even the regular season has been switched out like a line wave with new, and inexperienced, yet younger, improved, and quick to adjust players.
Despite giving up the first goal Saturday, the Red Wings almost looked like the Red Wings of old in a Game 2 win at Chicago. But can they keep the momentum going for Monday night’s Game 3, or will Chicago respond with some adjustments of their own?
After his team lost Game 1 of its Western Conference semifinal series in Chicago Wednesday night, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock offered a theory as to why his team looked slow in the last 40 minutes.
“We did a lot of traveling in the first series, back and forth. I saw us (Tuesday in practice) and I wasn’t surprised when I saw us today.”- Coach Mike Babcok
Wisely, Babcock took his team back to Detroit after Wednesday’s game, taking advantage of the extra day between games.
Needless to say, it worked.
Red Wings rookie Brendan Smith scored the winning goal Saturday in Detroit’s 4-1 win at Chicago that tied the series 1-1. The top-seeded Blackhawks won the opener by the same 4-1 score on Wednesday night.
“We knew they were going to come back and play much better than they did in Game 1. Obviously, we didn’t quite match the effort… There’s no time to waste in this series. We know going into their building it’s even more difficult.”- Blackhawks Captain Johnathan Toews
When the puck drops Monday night in Detroit for Game 3, Toews expects his team is ready to bounce back.
Toews had 23 goals, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead and trailing just four players in the league. However, he is struggling to score for a third straight postseason. And you can credit Henrik Zetterberg for holding Toews without a point in Game 2, an accomplishment that didn’t surprise many.
One of the great things about playoff hockey is how quickly the opportunity comes to erase a poor performance, no matter the reasons for said poor performance. Short memories are a must, but most of the guys who are good enough to play at this level have already shown that trait at some point. And while Detroit gives you the normal lines about sustaining this and playing well again in Game 3 Monday at The Joe, it’s Chicago’s turn to exhibit a short memory.
Yeah Chicago lost a game to Minnesota, but that series was never seriously in peril. Chicago can ill afford to play like that again in this series because this is the Red Wings, a division rival. This team may lack physical experience as in years, but they know the history of the franchise and certainly knows the history of competition between these 2 teams. You can believe Detroit will be a more formidable opponent that the Minnesota Wild.
Hockeytown should be ready. This final meeting of these legendary franchises as conference rivals took on a really interesting tone on Saturday, and now it’s time for the heavy Stanley Cup favorites to respond.