Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 39

First there were sixteen, and with the end of the Western Conference Final there are now just two teams that remain. Don't adjust your web browser, it's not a re-run - it's a re-match.

Here's the recap:

(Red Wings 2, Blackhawks 1 - 1OT)

Goaltending was the story in game five of the West Final between Detroit and Chicago...or rather, between Chris Osgood and Cristobal Huet.

Shots were 31-20 for the Red Wings through 40 minutes and 46-31 by the end of the game - and there were plenty of spectacular saves at both ends of the ice. Cristobal Huet, who was forced into action when Nikolai Khabibulin went down with an injury, was impressive putting up a 44-save performance which included a desperation save on Johan Franzen in the closing seconds of regulation.

For Chris Osgood, the redemption song continues after a sub-par regular season. With his 30 saves and 12th win of these playoffs, Osgood moves into a tie with legendary netminder Jacques Plante for eighth on the all-time playoff wins list with 71.

Once again, it was the role players coming up big for the Red Wings who were still playing without Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk (and were also missing rookie standout Jonathan Ericsson).

Dan Cleary tipped home a Brett Lebda point shot about six minutes into the third period to open the scoring, his eighth goal of the playoffs. That's pretty impressive considering he only scored 14 times in 74 regular season games.

Patrick Kane picked a good time to open his account for the series, scoring about seven minutes later to tie things up. It was a highlight in what was otherwise a pretty bad series for the young Chicago forward, who finished a minus-six in five games with just two points.

Now, when it comes to the overtime period...it seems like most overtimes are decided early on, so it's all about who gets the best start. In the last OT between these two clubs, it was Chicago getting the quick start; on Wednesday night, it was all Detroit.

Obviously I was happy to see the Red Wings prevail, but I was so happy to see former Medicine Hat Tiger Darren Helm stuff home the winner, because he is quickly becoming one of my favorite players.

He's got skill, but he plays a hard-nosed style of hockey, he never stops skating and he's turning into an exceptional penalty-killer...and he's just 22!

Still not sold on Helm? Here's an example of him DOMINATING on the penalty-kill:



The funny thing about Helm is that he's one of a select group of players to score four goals in the playoffs, before scoring a single goal in the regular season. He's now got five career playoff goals in 34 games and zero goals in 23 regular season games.

Just like in the 1995 Western Final between these two clubs, three games went to overtime, including the 2-1 OT-win in game five that sends the Wings to the Stanley Cup Final. How's that for a quirky fact?

Here's another one: The upcoming series between the Red Wings and the Penguins marks the first time since the 1984 series between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders that the same two teams have met in consecutive finals.

And for those of you keeping track: Henrik Zetterberg accepted the Clarence S. Campbell bowl, but did not touch it.

The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday night at 6pm. Check back soon for a preview of the series.

Let Kerrzy read it to you:

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