Saturday, May 17, 2008

Back to Texas

Western Conference final
(1) Detroit v. (5) Dallas
Red Wings lead series 3-2
Marty Turco, winless in Joe Louis Arena in his NHL career and with Dallas facing elimination in the Western Conference final, kept the Stars alive Saturday.

"There wasn't any better time than now," Turco said after his team's 2-1 triumph and his first goaltending win in Detroit in his 12th try in seven years in the league. "It has been a long time but it's something I never thought wouldn't happen in my career."
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not a huge fan of Saturday afternoon hockey in mid-May.

Thank goodness for a PVR.

The shots may have been lopsided in this one, 39-21, but I don't think that accurately reflects the balance of play. The Stars we saw in Game 5 were much closer to the team that was in second spot in the NHL at the trade deadline, when they were seven points up on the Eastern Conference leader and only three behind the first-place Red Wings.

It's funny how quickly a series can turn. A few days ago, with Detroit at 3-0, Mark Stepneski at Andrew's Dallas Stars Page fired me a note to say he wanted to amend a few of his answers from a preseries Q&A we did.

"I am a little stunned they are up 3-0 and on the verge of a sweep," he said. "We were talking about it at practice today and most of us who watch the team closely are a little surprised. Most of us thought it would go at least six games."

That was Tuesday night. Four days later and Game 6 is where we're headed.

I thought the Stars looked pretty good, taking advantage of Detroit's missteps, but the bigger surprise was just how many of those gaffes there were. With a one-goal lead, Dallas held the balance of play in the third period, and far from looking dominant, the Red Wings rarely threatened that slim advantage.

Their top line, at one point, was hemmed in its own zone. Tomas Holmstrom took a stupid penalty with under eight minutes remaining. And the comeback, on the whole, was pretty feeble.

Monday should be interesting.

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At 1:58 a.m., May 18, 2008, Blogger Hallock said...

I was at the game this afternoon--or should I say this morning when I got there--and your analysis is quite correct.

Detroit had a lot of sloppy play, passes that were easily intercepted, not jumping on chances to get to Dallas's zone, and pucks sliding by the defense on multiple occasions. While Detroit may have had more shots, I think the statistic is misleading, most of them were from 20 feet out or more.

Where they really got punished were their secondary chances though. Particularly in the second half of the first period and Detroit was much more physical, but Dallas was limiting the rebounds the Red Wings got. Also, Holmstrom also got into position maybe once or twice the whole evening. His penalty at the end of the game was a real nail in the game's coffin.

During the first period there were a few non-calls on Detroit off the puck, nothing that would have shifted the game momentum. Turco played quite well, but I don't really think this is a great victory for Dallas. The momentum they garnered was from the missteps taken by Detroit. Kudos for them for capitalizing off those mistakes, but they didn't seem to generate many of their own opportunities.

Detroit desperately needs to find their intensity, pressure, puck control, and poise for game six though if they expect to win. The confidence growing in Dallas to be the team they were the last two rounds gets harder to quash.


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