It’s safe to say, one would think, that if the Stockholm Red Wings play the way they did in the second round of the playoffs, their players will be getting fitted for Stanley Cup rings just over a month from now.
Of course, if they make as short of work of their next two opponents that they did of the Colorado Avalanche, perhaps we might see the end of the season before we have to star applying sunscreen on a regular basis.
Is it just me or are the Red Wings looking very much the part of Stanley Cup champion? Granted their first two rounds have not been against very good teams, but the way they dictated the game in the Colorado series indicates to me that this is a team that is on something of a mission.
Just as importantly, the sweep by the Red Wings means Detroit has emerged from the first two rounds in 10 games. The sweep in the second round will serve them well when the going gets particularly difficult in the Western Conference final and, if they win that, the Stanley Cup final.
Of course it helps when Johan Franzen emerges as a big-time scorer on a team that already has an embarrassment of those. With his hat trick in the Red Wings 8-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 4 Thursday night, Franzen notched his seventh, eighth and ninth goals of the series to break a franchise record for goals in a series set by Gordie Howe in 1949.
The only difference was that Howe’s eight goals came in a seven-game triumph over the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, while Franzen’s nine came in a four-game sweep.
All eight goals for the Red Wings, incidentally, came from players who were born in Sweden, while the Avalanche’s star from Sweden had to once again watch from the sidelines. The fact that Peter Forsberg missed the game – along with Ryan Smyth, Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny – was unfortunate to be sure, but was a risk the Avs must have realized when they signed him at the trade deadline.
If Forsberg is indeed the man of honor and the player of integrity everyone makes him out to be, he will retire for good after this season and stop teasing teams with what might be if he were only able to ever play on a consistent basis. And since that prospect is currently impossible, Forsberg should do the right thing and file his retirement papers as soon as possible.
The same might be the case for Colorado captain Joe Sakic, who has been on the year-to-year plan for the past couple of seasons. There are many in the hockey world who feel Sakic still has some fine hockey left in him, but there certainly wouldn’t be any shame in Sakic retiring now and not having to suffer the indignity of spending the last years of his career as a shell of his former self.
Should they both retire, the Hall of Fame awaits them. Wouldn’t be a bad class of 2011 if Jaromir Jagr decided to pack it in after this season, would it?
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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