First four Red Wing/Edmonton game blogs! By Eric Fish

Hondo S. Carpenter

Written by Eric Fish

Game One
Detroit 3, Edmonton 2 (2OT)

The slogan for this season’s Red Wings playoff run is “Bring It.”

That’s exactly what over 20,000 fans did for game one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, screaming like there was no tomorrow and littering the ice with octopuses before vocalist Karen Newman could even finish the final notes of the national anthem.

The playoffs were back in full force in Detroit, and although it took the Red Wings almost five periods to do away with the pesky Edmonton Oilers in game one of the playoffs, everyone went home happy.

With that being said, here are my thoughts on game one:

-The Oilers played a very defensive style of play and threw the Red Wings fits at times. They did a great job trapping to take away the middle of the ice, and Dwayne Roloson made save after save, hinting that this wasn’t going to be an easy night for the Red Wings. But I don’t know if Edmonton can play any better than they did in game one and the Wings still prevailed without leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk, who is still listed day-to-day.

-Kirk Maltby only scored five goals in the regular season but scored two huge ones in the playoff opener. Fitting that in the playoffs, where grit and determination sometimes outweigh skill, it was the grind-liner who got it done.

-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the playoffs were going to be officiated just like the regular season. All the clutching, grabbing, holding, and interfering out in game one resembled hockey from three years ago. The thing is that I watched other playoff games and they were very well officiated. Hopefully, that doesn’t continue further on for the Wings because it is clearly to their disadvantage.

-The game was very intense and I loved that part of it. There was a small scrum about three minutes into the game and other little skirmishes throughout the game. It shows the intensity of playoff hockey. At the end of this series every player will shake each other’s hand in honor of a good series and leave everything on the ice. But while the games are going on, there’s no mercy out there. You’ve got to love it!

-Mike Babcock chose the youngster Brett Lebda to be his sixth defenseman for the time being over veterans Cory Cross and Jason Woolley. Lebda is a great puck handler and a smooth skater and played a handful of minutes in the overtimes. Props to Babcock here on this move. Scotty Bowman for sure would have gone with a veteran defenseman, but Babcock is sticking with his gut feeling, for now. Also much credit to Babcock for not shortening the bench in overtime as Edmonton did. It really shows off the depth of the Red Wings.

Game Two
Edmonton 4, Detroit 2

What a disappointment this game was. It seemed like the Red Wings didn’t make any adjustments from game one, while Edmonton executed its game plan of neutral zone trapping, blocking shots, and maintaining a strong emphasis on defensive play and waiting for offensive chances.

Here are some other thoughts and observations from game two:

- It’s obviously going to be a series of old-time hockey. Razzle-dazzle and skill can only take a team so far. This series is going to be won by the team who wins the little battles in the corners and isn’t afraid to go hard to the net.

- It’s going to be crucial for the Red Wings to have a lead going into the third period. That way, it’ll force Edmonton to go away from playing a trap and open up the game a little bit more. This will benefit the Red Wings and give them the opportunity to expand the lead. Detroit should have had the lead going into the third in game two, but two turnovers resulted in two Oiler goals.

- Through two games, Steve Yzerman has been one of the best players on the ice for Detroit. More players need to step it up. Brendan Shanahan scored 40 goals in the regular season and has looked invincible out there so far in the playoffs. Mikael Sameulsson and Tomas Holmstrom are two others that need to step it up.

Game Three
Edmonton 4, Detroit 3 (2OT)

I stormed angrily into my room, slammed the door, pounded my fists on my desk and sat there staring at the wall, just thinking. It was 2:15 a.m. The Red Wings had just lost a pivotal game three to the Oilers in double overtime and had played so well in the third period – where they came back from two goals down to tie it – and in each overtime.

It wasn’t fair. How could a team play so well down the stretch and not be rewarded? How could Jason Williams’ would-be game-winning goal in overtime have gone “under” the net and not “into” the net? It wasn’t fair.

But then again, hockey isn’t always fair.

With Edmonton leading the series 2-1, the Red Wings must win game four on Thursday night. If they fail to do so, the Oilers will score the first round series upset and the Wings will be making tee times.

If Detroit goes down three games to one, there is no way they can win three games in a row against Edmonton’s trap.

Game Four
Detroit 4, Edmonton 2

If there’s one thing the Red Wings proved in the pivotal game four of this first round series, it’s that they’re willing to win the battles in the corners and play tough, ugly hockey in order to win too. Trailing the series 2-1, Detroit finally got the power play to work, won the small battles in the corners, got a good (but not great) goaltending performance, and sent a sold out pro-Edmonton crowd home with the same sour taste that fans exited Joe Louis Arena with after game two.

Some notable observations from game four:

- Brett Lebda: Head coach Mike Babcock penciled in the rookie as the sixth defenseman for the Wings in the postseason and he may have turned his best game of the year Thursday. Big props to Babcock for sticking with the youngster over veterans Jason Woolley and Cory Cross.

- Steve Yzerman didn’t play after suffering a back injury in game three. There’s no doubt that the captain has been one of the best players in the series and fortunately it doesn’t sound like the injury is anything serious.

- The officiating was absolutely horrible and had both teams frustrated at various times during the game. But finally, the Wings got the power play going and turned in three goals with the man advantage.

- Manny Legace was good, but not great in game four after turning in a questionable performance in game three. The second Oiler goal was one he’d definitely like to have back, but he did make some key stops down the stretch.

- It was great to see Pavel Datsyuk back into form. It took him a few games coming off injury, but the Russian looked like the Datsyuk we all loved watching during the regular season in game four.

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