Saturday, April 17, 2004

Game 6: @ Nashville, 3:00 ET

Today is the sixth game in the Western Conference Quarterfinals series between Detroit and Nashville. The Wings won the first two games, (3-1 and 2-1), lost the next two (1-3 and 0-3), and then won Game 5 (4-1). Game 6 will be on ABC this afternoon, so brace yourself for bad announcing. The Wings can close out the series with a win this afternoon in Nashville. Kris Draper says it best: "Our performance was good to put ourselves in this position. But now it's up to us to make sure we capitalize on that." With possible second round opponents in Calgary and Colorado, the Wings need to notch their first road win in the GEC. Mathieu Dandenault on the feel of GEC:
"The seats are dark. You see the steel all over the place. It's smaller. It's just shaped differently from what all the new rinks look like. When you're a home player, you're in there every day and get accustomed to it. When you're a visiting player, it's different for you and kind of a little bit of an adjustment. It's not an excuse or anything. But if you're looking for a reason, that might be a factor."
Look for Coach Dave Lewis to keep the Predators on their heels with more line shuffling. Associate Coach Barry Smith: "It's like the old Bowman theory. 'The better you change, the better you play.' " Marek Zidlicky remains questionable after the crushing Kirk Maltby hit in Game 1. The injury is described as an "upper-body injury," in all the specifics of playoff hockey injury reports. The Wings need to score early, as was a pregame note for Game 5. Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun, held prematurely as a J.S. Giguere with Preds fans, stopped 82 of 83 shots in Nashville. But Wings fans will remember that many of those shots were from the perimeter, and the Wings had several chances to score with Vokoun out of position. The two Nashville losses really came down to the Wings offense choking. The Wings will likely go with the same lineup as in Game 5, unless Jason Woolley is a gametime decision. Curtis Joseph will get the start, coming off his first playoff win in Detroit. Blues Falter Again: It is sad to see Chris Osgood's Blues fall so hard in the first round, as the Sharks won the series 4-1 Thursday. Their 25 consecutive playoff berths almost make it even worse, as the club has no Stanley Cup in it's 37-season history. And of those 37 seasons, they have qualified for the playoffs 34 times, but have been eliminated in the first round 16 times. They have lost 7 of their last 8 playoff games. Doug Weight, third year Blue, on the debacle:
"We really felt good about (Game 5). The team felt like the series wasn't going to end here, felt like we were going home. ... The way we started the series with a 1-0 loss, I would have said we were going to win in (Game) 6. That's just my opinion. Me, myself. I didn't tell anybody. I just kept it to myself. I just felt, like, OK, they're vulnerable at our strengths, our matchups. Our game was ready and yet here we are. I don't know what to say. You can't win with (nine) goals in five games. I told you 10 days ago that we could. And you can. But the percentages go down a lot when you're not going to score a goal. We had chances. But that doesn't matter. Obviously Nabokov was in a zone (Thursday), in the third period. Made some huge saves early in the series. But we've got to score more than one goal in two games and get shut out in the other game. That's the difference in the series - the power play and the goal scoring."
Finally, Ozzie weighs in on the Arched City's playoff woes:
"Personally and as a team, all of us could have played better. Better work ethic could have been there. ... It's pretty frustrating because we get to the playoffs, we felt so good coming in, we were playing our best hockey - to be out this fast is difficult to swallow."
When the Wings traded Vyacheslav Kozlov for Dominik Hasek during the summer of 2001, Ozzie's days in Detroit were all but over. He was claimed by the New York Islanders off waivers on September 28, 2001. While many of Hockeytown's Heroes have left into the sunset, Ozzie left the Wings as a news clip on the ESPN ticker. He played two seasons with the Islanders before a trade that sent him to St. Louis in March 2003. He has had spurts of limited success in his post-Wing career. Murder-for-Hire? Blues center Mike Danton was arrested by FBI agents early Friday. He was still in San Jose after the St. Louis loss the previous night. He is charged with arranging the murder of an acquaintance. Read the material for yourself, as I don't want to comment on Danton's lifestyle or the case before the facts get out: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Official Criminal Complaint


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