Thursday, April 16, 2009
Red Wings Playoff Blogging - Round 1, Game 1
The first game of the first series is always scary for a Red Wings fan. Especially when they come up against a young, hungry*, low-ranked team with an outstanding goaltender, as the Columbus Blue Jackets have in rookie Steve Mason.
This year's regular season ended on such a sour note, that the Wings looked seriously UNREADY for the playoffs - prompting me to dub them The Eathelred Wings. The start of the game was in keeping with my worst expectations. Columbus spent 6 of the first 10 minutes on the power play. But, the player who seemed to be the biggest question mark going in was the one who came ready to play from the opening whistle. While the rest of the team found their way back from the penalty box, the locker room, the concession stand, or wherever they were lurking, goalie Chris Osgood kept the Blue Jays off the score board, and the Eathelreds in the game. Of course the fact that Columbus has the worst power play in the league might have helped.
At about the ten minute mark, the tide turned, and the Wings took over. After allowing 13 shots on goal in the first period the Red Wings (having earned back their regular name, for the nonce) held the Blue Moons to a mere 8 for the rest of the game, including only 2 in the final period.
Scoring in the Wings 4-1 victory came from the third line and the defense - with the help of a couple deflections off Columbus players. Bad luck for Mason, who really played an outstanding game.
Short synopsis: Ozzie was brilliant, and kept the Eathelreds in the game until the real Red Wings made their appearance - about ten minutes late. Then the Wings put on a great show of defense, while also showing, once again, why they are the number one scoring team in the league.
I have to say something about the officiating. It was horrible, terrible, atrocious, and ghastly. I don't have too much of a problem with all the first period Wings penalties that put them on the PK for minutes on end. I have a big problem with the non-calls on Columbus. There were no fewer than 6 blatant infractions that were non-calls. Two goalie interference, two holding/interference in the Columbus defensive zone, and two slashes, one of which could have caused a serious injury, had it been a few inches higher on the arm, and the other setting up an early scoring chance for the Blue Bonnets. Two of the four Columbus penalties were for goalie interference, and neither of those was as severe as the two non-calls. Pitiful job of officiating.
This single incident illustrates how out of it the officials were. With under two seconds left in a 4-1 game, Columbus iced the puck. It looked like the clock ran out, and the Wings bench swarmed Ozzie to congratulate him. But the officials made them clear the ice, and have one last face-off in the Blue Sea's end. Freaking pitiful!
Columbus is a team with big aggressive players. Once the game was out of reach, I expected (with some prompting from Mickey Redmond) a lot of cheap shot action from the Blue Clay. But, to their credit, and that of manger Ken Hitchcock**, it never happened.
On to game 2.
* This is the first playoff appearance in the 8 year history of the Columbus franchise.
** Even without the moustache, he still reminds me of Captain Kangaroo