Monday, May 03, 2004

Game 6: @ Calgary, 10:00 ET

Tonight is the sixth game in this Western Conference Semifinals series between the Wings and the Flames. The teams have traded wins. Calgary won Game 1, 2-1 in overtime, the Wings won Game 2, 5-2 , Calgary won Game 3, 3-2, the Wings won Game 4, 4-2, and Calgary won Game 5, 1-0. Calgary leads the best-of-seven series 3-2. This is the first time the Wings will be facing elimination in this playoff run. After going up 2-0 in the Nashville series, the Wings lost two straight in the Gaylord Entertainment Center, but won the last two games for a 4-2 series win. The Wings will be deep in enemy territory tonight, 1572 miles from the Joe in Pengrowth Saddledome. The Flames are looking to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since their Cup win in 1989, just in case you want to hear that for the 1001th time. The Wings need to rally around Yzerman's situation and start to read how the pundits are saying "Wings staring at end of era". Big Names in Big Games Pavel Datsyuk needs to prove that he belongs in playoff hockey and score his first playoff goal in his 21st game. Or else he is just a circus-act out there, teasing us with his skills, but failing to capitalize. Although likely injured, Brett Hull is an important part of the Wings power play. He has been getting off 5-6 shots per game, but few have been vintage Hull slot chances. Jiri Fischer needs to concentrate on defense, rather than throwing his body around and watching guys skate in for game-winning goals. That's what happened in Games 1 and 5. Brendan Shanahan also needs to take up the reigns of this team and show more leadership tonight. The 35-year-old has only 1 goal and 5 assists in 11 playoff games. Back in the day, on October 9, 1996, Shanny was obtained from the Hartford Whalers for Keith Primeau and Paul Coffey. While Coffey is since retired, Primeau is now captain of the Flyers and had 3 goals and 2 assists yesterday afternoon. That's the type of big game effort the Wings need from Shanny. Go out there and one-up the guy who was traded for you... Derian Hatcher also needs to step it up a notch after an awful Game 5. He looked flat-footed all afternoon, and passed the puck more to Calgary Flames than men in the Winged-Wheel. If he wants to be a cornerstone of the Wings' defense, he should concentrate more on defense than solely throwing his body around. On that note, he has done an excellent job of antagonizing Jarome Iginla. But he still remains a potential defensive liability each night... Injury Update Brett Hull has been playing with a "lower-body" injury, and is reportedly taking pain-killing injections. He has skipped a few recent optional practices, and was seen walking with a limp after a game earlier this series. Robert Lang has been unable to take faceoffs with his hand injury, which will likely turn out to be a broken bone in the offseason. The absence of Steve Yzerman will also hurt on faceoffs. Guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper will have to take the bulk of the faceoff load tonight. Chris Chelios, who missed Games 3, 4 and 5, is again a game-time decision for tonight's game. Oleg Saprykin hit Cheli hard into the boards near the end of the second period of Game 2. He left the ice holding his right arm. Jason Williams had problems with a groin injury during the regular season, and has aggravated it during the playoffs. Steve Yzerman is out for the remainder of the playoffs after suffering serious facial injuries in Game 5. After a point shot deflected into his face, Yzerman was left with a scratched cornea and multiple fractures to his left orbital bone. He underwent a four and a half hour surgery at Henry Ford Hospital to repair the left eye area. While his vision was blurry after the incident, it has cleared up after the surgery. Steve Thomas is out for the series with a torn groin. The Second Steve has had bad luck with injuries all season long. He is the Wings' candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the "player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey." Rhett Warrener returned in Game 5 for the Flames from an eye injury, after taking a high stick from Yzerman in Game 2. Ironically, the doomed Mathieu Schneider shot deflected off one of his skates and into Yzerman's left eye socket. The Evil Grin Returns Ville Nieminen, who was suspended from Game 5 after running Cujo with 4 seconds left in Game 4, will return to the ice tonight. I don't think the Wings will go after the Cheshire Cat too much tonight, since it is an elimination game and revenge can wait. Remember 2002 In the Wings' last Cup-winning playoff run in 2002, they trailed Colorado 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals, but won Game 6 in Denver and Game 7 in Detroit. Some pearls of wisdom from Coach Dave Lewis:
"We were in the same position a couple of years ago heading into Colorado for Game 6. So we have to have the mentality that you have to win that game. Anything can happen in Game 7, but you have to get to Game 7."
The main cause of the Game 6 win was a meltdown in the Colorado net, courtesy of Patrick Roy, who made the Statue of Liberty save that led to a Brendan Shanahan poke-in goal. The Wings won Game 6 of that series, 2-0. Quotable: "The Red Wings are Steve Yzerman." --Darren McCarty, longtime teammate of Captain Steve Yzerman. Notables: The Wings have not allowed more than three goals in their last 25 playoff games, an NHL record....The Flames have not scored a first-period goal in their last 10 contests....The Wings have won 2 of their last 3 road playoff games....Robert Lang leads the Wings with 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists)....Pavel Datsyuk has six assists but no goals....Of the 180 teams that have lost Game 5 with the series previously tied 2-2, only 36 have won the series....The Avs are in the same situation as the Wings, trailing the Sharks in their series 3-2. But the Avs have won their last two games, as they, at one point, were trailing 3-0. Series totals: Wings lead goals 12-10, Wings lead shots 150-109, Flames lead checks 176-154, Wings lead power play time with 30:41 to 25:25, Wings lead faceoff wins 205-154. The Wings have the most goals in the second period a at 7, followed by the third (4), and first (1). The Flames also have the most goals in second period at 8, followed by the third (1), overtime (1), and first (0).


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