Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wings Shut Down Hawks, Push Chicago to the Brink

Go back in time to before the 2nd round started.  Ask any fan on either side of the fanbase what the series score would be after Game 4.  I guarantee you not a single soul would answer you, "3-1 Detroit".  Not even the slappiest of Wingnuts--including myself--would have dared to say it.  You might have gotten a 2-2 tie from a few, but that'd be the line in the sand.  Anything more pro-Red Wings would have been seen as sheer lunacy.

Well, call me crazy folks because here we are, reveling in a 2-0 shutout victory over Chicago, and standing just one win away from moving on to the Western Conference Final.

Detroit got the pleasure of scoring the first playoff powerplay goal the Hawks have given up in the last...well, forever, as Jakub Kindl opened the scoring, while Danny Cleary buried the empty-netter late to finish off the Blackhawks for the third consecutive game--this was also the first time that Chicago had allowed that particular lowlight all year!  Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made 28 saves in the win, many of them critical and monstrously huge.

Chicago looked like their frustration had carried over from the previous game, especially with Hawks captain Jonathan Toews.  The Chicago leader was out of sorts all night long, his worst moments coming when he managed to get himself put in the penalty box three times in a row!  When your own captain is getting so pissed he can't stop taking penalties, you know you've lost your composure.  To their credit, the Hawks had a lot of very good chances, but Howard was far too tall to the task for Chicago to break through.

So, how did the Wings do it? To me, it looked like no more than a good old-fashioned grit-fest. The Wings put their heads down and barreled forward on the offense, and when Chicago came rushing back, the heads came up and saw the ice very very well.  I know I said the Hawks got great chances, and they did, but there were numerous chances that would have been even more juicy if not for excellent backchecks and defensive plays from the D-men.  If we can get that kind of effort from the Wings on Saturday, we could be looking at a triumphant end to one of Detroit's most hated division rivalries.

We will have to wait and see what transpires in the Madhouse in what will likely be the most intense game yet in this series.

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Let's Go Red Wings!!