coach Joel Quenneville, center, and the Avalanche look glum on their bench after Johan Franzen scored his third goal of the game, making it 5-1 and sealing the victory.” Colorado
(Detroit News photo and caption.)
(Detroit News photo and caption.)
The gloves hit the ice, albeit delicately, and the Joe Louis Arena crowd practically jumped to the roof.
Darren McCarty and
's Cody McCormick engaged in the old hockey warrior's tribal dance -- slowly circling, then gradually moving toward each other, one tempting the other with the question all have waited to be asked in this young series. Colorado
Do you want to go?
"I had to ask him again," McCarty said. "Are you sure? Then let's go."
The pair staged a pugilistic throwback Saturday, reminding us that although the majority of names have changed on the sweaters, there remains an inner hostility when it's the Wings and
on the ice in the playoffs. Colorado
The Wings are forcing the fight, applying relentless pressure on the Avalanche and precipitating an avalanche of rapidly falling
intensity and discipline. The Avs already are gasping for breath, and they're a mile down at sea level. Colorado
The Wings assumed a 2-0 series lead with their 5-1 win.
But because it's the Stanley Cup playoffs where momentum change is often one unfortunate bounce away, everyone must resist the urge to immediately take a shovel to the Avalanche's chances of making this an interesting series.
The Avs are beaten down physically and mentally. But wasn't
as well two games into the last series? Nashville
Franzen has been this series' star with five goals in two games, including the Wings' first playoff hat trick since McCarty did it six years ago against the Avalanche in the conference finals.
"That's pretty cool," said McCarty, told he had the previous hat trick. "But (Franzen's) caught me now, so that means I've got to do it again."
McCarty perfectly performed his role. This was precisely why fans wanted him back. He's the old-school policeman trying to find his identity within a league that now frowns upon frontier justice.
That’s Drew Sharp, writing in today’s Freep, and note the highlighted bits. D-Mac ain't just an enforcer, to make things perfectly clear. But when it comes to fighting... McCarty can hang in there with the best of 'em. Joe Lewis Arena literally erupted when McCarty and McCormick went at it yesterday, and although the fight was a draw, it certainly energized the crowd. Interestingly, McCarty gets the honor of being in the Wings’ first fight during these play-offs, and yesterday’s fisticuffs at The Joe was just the fifth fight in ALL play-off games to date. The NHL on NBC commentators threw out some fast facts about play-off fights to illustrate just how much the NHL has changed of late. Their first exchange drew knowing chuckles from both color guys… both of whom are ex-players… who began their discussion by mentioning the Wings were “a very different team back in ‘87… when Probert and Kocur were still around.” I’m quoting from memory here, but I seem to recall the announcers saying something to the effect there were 17 fights in the first round alone that year, followed by some astronomical number (that I don’t remember) for the entire play-offs. As for today? Well…this ain’t your father’s NHL. I’ll not get too nostalgic — it’s sufficient to say I miss the old league.
The bigger story, of course, is the Wings’ dominating performance in yesterday’s game, not the least of which was Johan Franzen’s previously mentioned hat trick. Franzen’s nickname is “The Mule” but he’s more like a horse, in that the Wings have saddled him up and rode him to victory in these first two games of the second round. Franzen is also tied for the most goals in the play-offs so far (seven, along with the Flyers Briere)…and to say he’s been stellar in the play-offs so far is an understatement of massive proportions.
Franzen’s performance is just one of the things that make this year’s Wings so dangerous for the opposition, along with guys like Zetterburg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Draper, McCarty…yadda, yadda. And let’s not forget great goaltending… Osgood’s 1.09 goals-against-average is third in play-offs (as of today), and first amongst starting goalies. So, yeah…the sticks are falling the right direction. It looks like the intangibles are there, too, but that remains to be seen. The next two games in
will reveal a lot… if not everything… about how far the Wings can go this year. Denver
As for the Avs? Only a fool would count them out, but it sure ain’t looking good for them right about now. Everyone seems to think the Avs will be a completely different team when and if Peter Forsberg gets healthy and returns to the line up. But Forsberg is just one guy. Yeah, he’s good… great, even. Yes, he’s a leader. Yes, he’s a motivator. Yes, his performance has been a key factor in the Avs’ past successes. But Sakic and Foote, just to name two guys, were also “keys to success” in the past, and they haven’t shown up in this series…so far. As I said: all (or most) will be revealed next week at the
. Some guys in Denver ain’t optimistic. Pepsi Center
Highlights from yesterday’s game. All the goals, some of the hits, and a brief view of the fight: