The second round of the NHL playoffs were going to end Wednesday. The only question was which team would emerge victorious. Would the Chicago Blackhawks move on to play the Kings? Or would the Detroit Red Wings finish off the upset?
Despite it being a game seven, both teams came out guns blazing. They were not shy, as they combined for 24 shots with plenty of scoring chances. However, there was no scoring. Then, just a little over a minute into the second, the Wings made a bad line change, which led to a three-on-one for the Blackhawks, which turned into a Patrick Sharp goal. Early in the third, Henrik Zetterberg evened things up. Late in the third, Nicklas Hjalmarsson thought he had scored the go ahead goal, but it was waved off. For you see, back at center ice the ref was calling coincidental minors before the puck went into the net. This made a lot of fans very angry. Presumably this is because they expected Stephen Walkom to be able to predict the future. Seriously, if Hjalmarsson hadn’t scored, there wouldn’t be any caterwauling. Process over results. So, we headed into overtime. There, the Blackhawks were redeemed, as Brent Seabrook blasted a shot past Jimmy Howard for the game, and series, winning goal.
And that is that. Corey Crawford made 25 saves, while Howard stopped 33 shots. Both goalies played well. Both teams played well, although Detroit had some sketchy moments. Which, to be fair, may be because they were the worse team, and they were on the road. Some may call this a disappointing result for the Wings. After all, they were up 3-1 in the series. Sure, this is true, but they were up 3-1 against a much better team, and they had to play two of the games, including the final contest, on the road. Had the Blackhawks lost this series, they would have been considered the disappointment. Neither of these teams are disappointments.
After an easy first round win, the Blackhawks got a scare from Detroit, but their ques continues. They not place the Los Angeles Kings. They shall be a tougher matchup, but Chicago, arguably the best team in the league, and the President’s Trophy winners, should still be favorites. They’ll need more from Jonathan Toews, however, and Crawford will need to be strong in net.
As for Detroit, they kept their playoff streak alive, which is good enough. I said this several times, but this was the worst Wings roster of this streak. It was a year of transition, with key players, namely Nicklas Lidstrom, moving on. Guys like Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm missed almost the entire year, and postseason, with injuries. Yet, they beat the Anaheim Ducks and pushed the Chicago Blackhawks to a seventh game overtime. Their young players, such as Jakub Kindl and Gustav Nyquist, got valuable experience. They have the ability to add players in free agency, which, if they want to be Cup contenders again, they need to do. A nice run for the Red Wings.
So, our conference finals are set. It’s Pittsburgh versus Boston and Chicago against Los Angeles. Those are, on paper, two excellent series. Both series open up on Saturday. That gives us a few days to ruminate and predict and such. Also, these are the last four teams to win the Cup. Some city is going to get spoiled. Take that, Toronto!