The Detroit Red Wings are a veteran team and, by and large, they don't get overly excited about things that are out of their control. But the blown goal call in Tuesday night's 2-1 to Anaheim has the potential to change all that.
The Wings go into tonight's game down 2-1 in the series, having lost a marathon triple overtime game in Detroit before coming out on the short end of a controversial loss where it was clear that they had scored what would have been the game-tying goal with 1:04 left in regulation. That apparent tally was washed out by referee
The official explanation was that Watson lost sight of the puck, and that referees are trained to stop play in those instances. The problem was that the puck was never in the control of Ducks goalie
Had Detroit won the OT marathon, maybe the blown call wouldn't be such a big issue, but having to fly all the way to California with a physically draining loss sapping some of their mental energy and then getting the short straw on a clearly wrong call can be troublesome. The Wings are saying all the right things, but in a series where every shot seems to matter, Watson's call is likely to weigh on them.
The Ducks have exposed some of Detroit's weaknesses that were evident but not exploited in their first round series with Columbus. Anaheim's very mobile defense has been able to get in and be an offensive threat in the Wings' zone. Injuries, especially to defenseman
Also troublesome is that Anaheim has disrupted Detroit's vaunted puck-possession game where it starts, in Wings' zone. That's a credit to the Ducks' size and forechecking ability, but it also highlights Detroit's problems on their backend (as does the long-lead pass, a play that was in evidence when 47-year-old
None of this is anything that the Red Wings can't correct, but to do it they'll need to solve Hiller, control the puck better -- especially out of their own end -- and get past a call that put them in a place they've seldom been before: down in games and wondering exactly how they got there.
To its credit, the NHL didn't try to deny that Watson goofed. The league simply acknowledged, carefully, that mistakes happen, explained how this one occurred, and stated that the ref did was he was trained to do. Replays show the puck was always in play, but don't show that Watson might not have been in the best position to see it, hence he blew the whistle.
But going forward, the league shouldn't leave it at that. The purpose of video replay is to get the call right -- specifically as to whether the puck crosses the goal line. While it would be difficult to synchronize the sound of a whistle with the puck crossing the line, that's not really the issue. The issue is whether the play should have been stopped and, in this instance, it was clear that a mistake was made. If the idea is to verify that every goal is legitimate, then the league should expand its review policy to include cases such as this.
The Vancouver Canucks, or more accurately their legion of fans, are giddy about their first-round sweep of St. Louis and having a 2-1 edge on Chicago in their series. But if the Canucks are to go deep in these playoffs, and be true Stanley Cup contenders, they need to find a way to get their focus and all their hopes off goalie
That was the essential bright spot of their win on Chicago's ice in Game 3. In the two previous games at Vancouver, they got themselves a lead, blew it, and needed Luongo to save them from themselves. It happened in Game 1, but he couldn't do it alone in Game 2 where Chicago's comeback was so one-sided that the Blackhawks had to figure they'd gotten inside Luongo's head. If that was the case, his teammates didn't lose faith. On a night set up to celebrate the Hawks taking command of the series in the United Center, the young Canucks answered the challenge by winning the game for Luongo rather than because of him.
The question now is: can they do it again tonight?
These Hawks are a resilient bunch and will likely come back with the kind of effort that Pittsburgh put forth in beating Washington on Wednesday evening. They need a home-ice win before heading back to Vancouver. As a result, they'll be coming at Luongo hard, but for the Canucks to be successful, they must keep the play out of their end as much as possible and sustain pressure on Chicago goalie
The Blackhawks did a lot of that in Game 2, an indication that they've broken through as a more balanced team that does more than sit back and let their goaltender save them. Getting Chicago forward
These are two teams that are attempting to grow into legitimate Cup contenders in this series. The Canucks took a big stride in Game 3. Game 4 will be won by the team that makes a similar big move.
There's a tendency to believe that the Boston-Carolina series is turning on the play of the goaltenders; that Carolina's
Case in point was Wednesday's OT triumph in which Carolina outshot them, 38-19, in regulation time. Thomas was the better goalie in part because Ward had virtually no work and the game likely wouldn't have even gone to OT had the 'Canes converted any of 10 great chances in which they shot wide.
One other thing the Bruins can't seem to muster is clutch scoring. The 'Canes raised that to an art-form in their first-round win vs. New Jersey, and
In terms of heady center-ice play, the 'Canes are getting a lot more out of former Bruin
The predominant view in Canada is that everyone wants billionaire
The dichotomy seems to be driving them crazy, but who's to say Balsillie can't win? Lawyers with a background in bankruptcy tell me that the law would appear to be on Balsillie's side in his latest quest, to win the Phoenix Coyotes in a proceeding and have the judge accept his purchase conditions: $212.5 million and a court order that allows him to relocate the team to Southern Ontario.
The league views this, and rightly so, as a challenge to its authority to pick its partners and decide where its teams are located. It's a valid desire, but one that doesn't have a history of success when the courts are involved.
Balsillie, the lawyers say, has a better-than-even chance because in addition to having a case via anti-trust regulations, the bankruptcy judge has an obligation to accept the deal that is in the best interests of legitimate creditors. Balsillie, by providing Coyotes owner
Is that enough to declare the upstart billionaire a winner in this thing? Hardly, but he's got some legal advantages that the NHL will be hard pressed to reverse.
Money is a big issue for everyone these days and, as a result, one can't help but wonder if it hasn't played a role in the dismissal of
There were reports that Risebrough's annual compensation was in excess of $1 million. Four out of five men on the reported short list of candidates to replace him -- broadcaster