The Red Wings Continue To Surprise Us

I love playoff hockey and right now, the Detroit Red Wings are a prime example as to why I love it so much. When there were only a handful of regular season games remaining, you really couldn’t browse hockey web sites and forums without seeing the discussion about the possibility of the Red Wings playoff streak coming to an end. But then, this team went on a tear, winning their last 4 games of the regular season and outscoring their opponents 15-3 in those 4 games, which secured them a spot in the post-season. Streak still intact and now Detroit looking to turn some heads but no one really gave them a chance, yours truly included.

The Wings first round series against the Ducks went the full 7 games but Detroit managed to win Game 7 on the road and secure a spot in the next round. In that series against the Ducks, the Wings were able to keep guys like Corey Perry, Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan from putting up great numbers and establishing their game and they did so with what everyone has called a sub-par defense.

In Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Blackhawks, the Wings kept the game close until the 3rd period where the wheels seemed to fall off and were handed a 4-1 loss. In Game 2, the Wings bounced back and returned the favor, making the Chicago Blackhawks look like frustrated bunch by handing them a 4-1 loss. After 2 games, this series all of the sudden has the possibilities of something epic.

Enter Game 3. At the end of the night, the Hawks still looked like a frustrated bunch, especially when you factor in all the posts they hit. Much like the series against the Ducks, the Wings are doing a fantastic job at keeping the Hawks big names off the score sheet. Of course the Wings had a little help last night from the refs. There was a lot of talk about this specific moment in the hockey game but let’s look at the rulebook.

Rule 69 – Interference on the Goalkeeper

69.1 Interference on the Goalkeeper – This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.

Now, let’s look at the play. You make your own decision but I believe that the referee got the call right because Howard wasn’t allowed to move freely in his crease.

In the end, it wasn’t that play that decided this game. The Hawks had their chances but weren’t able to find the back of the net. The cause of a lot of the Hawks frustration belongs to one man, Jimmy Howard. He’s been unbelievable and the main reason that Detroit is up 2-1 in this series. The Hawks aren’t dead, far from it. I still expect the Hawks to win this series but I was wrong about this series not being as appetizing as the other Western Conference matchup.

There’s a lot of good being played right now and I can’t wait for to go home each night and catch some spectacular hockey.