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Stanley Cup Rematch All Set

May 27, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments

What a game played in Detroit tonight. The Red Wings prevailed thanks to Darren Helm’s series clinching goal at 3:58 of sudden death. The rookie was the best forward and got properly rewarded with an easy putback of a Tomas Holmstrom rebound of a Brett Lebda left point shot. A fitting way to end another five-game Conference Final series win over old Norris rival Chicago 14 years later.

Even minus Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson and Kris Draper, it didn’t matter speaking to the kind of superior depth the defending champs possess. Early on in their Cup defense, Brian Rafalski missed significant time. But these Wings don’t use injuries as a crutch. They just find other role players who step up like Dan Cleary did torching his former team for five goals.

And then there’s a kid such as Helm who entering these playoffs had never even scored an NHL goal. No problem this Spring as his third of the playoffs improved Detroit to 3-0 when he scores. He also got two in wins last round against Anaheim. Another late find for the Wings, who selected him in the 2005 fifth round. How dominant was he tonight? In 16-plus minutes, the 22 year-old Manitoban hit every Hawk finishing with 12 hits. When he wasn’t finishing checks, he was beating the opponent to loose pucks like one inspired shift shorthanded with an amazing individual effort that killed 25 seconds with him almost scoring if not for a strong save from Cristobal Huet. Doc Emrick noted that it reminded him of last year when Helm’s much more prominent teammate Henrik Zetterberg had a similar shift against the Pens, who once again will be their opponent in the first Cup rematch in 25 years beginning this weekend.

It’s what separates the Red Wings from most organizations. The way they can find these gems and teach them how to play the game. You can point so much to the remarkable scouting but unless you’re fully able to develop the players, it won’t matter. When you watch Mike Babcock’s club, it doesn’t seem to matter who he sends out as they all can skate, backcheck and never seem to give up the puck or on a play. That kind of relentlessness paid off in Helm’s OT winner tonight. They taught the more inexperienced Blackhawks a valuable lesson. One Jonathan Toews hopes they’ll learn from. At least Patrick Kane finally scored with the kind of wicked backhand we saw last round victimize Roberto Luongo. This time, he went wide and beat Chris Osgood high from a near impossible angle tying it.

The Hawks didn’t go down easily. They gave as good as they got trading chances with the Wings. Only the play of both goalies kept it knotted with Huet making a sprawling right pad desperation kickout of a Johan Franzen try with under 20 seconds left in regulation. That was the sort of wonderful netminding that forced the extra session. If he was a little rusty in the only uncompetitive game of this series last time out, Huet sure wasn’t in Game Five making some awesome stops en route to 44 total. The hometown folks handed out the No.1 Star to the savvy vet Osgood, who was very good matching the No.30 on his red and white Winged Wheel. But anyone who watched knows who the real star was in this one at least giving his team hope of bringing a Game Six back to Chicago.

It just wasn’t meant to be. And so, we get a Stanley Cup rematch between the two most skilled teams in the land with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sharing the playoff lead in points getting ready to do battle again against these super Red Wings, who have learned to win without some of their best performers. Something tells us those stars will suddenly become much healthier by Saturday. If they are to become the first repeat winner since they did it in 1997 and 98, the Lidstroms and Datsyuks could be heard from. It might also be a good idea for former Pen Marian Hossa to show. Well, at least he did tonight registering seven shots nearly setting up the winner late. Maybe now he’ll earn his paycheck when he faces his former ‘mates. How sick do you think we’ll be by the end of the weekend of NBC overhyping that storyline?

Here’s what I love about Versus. They not only mispelled Hossa’s first name during an intermission segment somehow spelling it, M-A-R-I-N but then when the series concluded only put out the Cup Final schedule for the first four games. As if those were the only ones being played. Would it kill the dopey Versus producers to at least display that Games 5 thru 7 are on NBC? I think they also screwed up the rematch thing mentioning 1985 instead of ’84. I could be mistaken.

In any event, for those that care, here is the complete Cup schedule with the first ever back-to-back Games 1 and 2 since 1955. Thank you again NBC. Is this their way of helping the Pens because it sure seems like an unfair advantage considering how nicked up the Wings are?

NHL ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE FOR 2009 STANLEY CUP FINAL



NEW YORK (May 27, 2009) — The National Hockey League announced today the schedule for the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, which begins Saturday, May 30 when the Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings host the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

NBC will telecast Games 1 and 2 and, if necessary, Games 5 through 7 of the best-of-seven series in the U.S., while VERSUS will broadcast Games 3 and 4. In Canada, CBC and RDS will provide coverage for the entire series. All games also will be carried on Sirius XM Radio.

The NHL Network, the League’s 24-hour, all-access pass to the most comprehensive hockey coverage, will feature special programming surrounding the Stanley Cup Final. NHL Network will air a live pre-game edition of NHL On The Fly from the host arena at 6 p.m., ET, as well as live, on-site, post-game coverage featuring press conferences, highlights and analysis.

2009 Stanley Cup Final — Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Date    Match-up    Time (ET)    National TV

Saturday, May 30    Pittsburgh at Detroit    8 p.m.    NBC, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 31    Pittsburgh at Detroit    TBD evening    NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, June 2    Detroit at Pittsburgh    8 p.m.    VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, June 4    Detroit at Pittsburgh    8 p.m.    VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, June 6    Pittsburgh at Detroit    8 p.m.    NBC, CBC, RDS
* Tuesday, June 9    Detroit at Pittsburgh    8 p.m.    NBC, CBC, RDS
* Friday, June 12    Pittsburgh at Detroit    8 p.m.    NBC, CBC, RDS

* if necessary

Well, look at it this way. At least we don’t have the preposterous nine-day layoff to worry about and after the first pair of games, almost everything’s spread out well with just a day between the middle four. And I can’t find fault with having a potential deciding Game 7 on a Friday night instead of a Thursday. NBC’s likely to attract more viewers if this series reaches that point.

This Lord Stanley rematch does have the potential to be a classic. Last year’s was good but partially due to the fact the Pens never quit getting Petr Sykora’s sudden death winner to extend things back to Pittsburgh. Detroit would prevail but not without a frantic final second where Osgood had to make one final stop at the buzzer. Pretty cool.

Right now, we’re leaning to the Pens because they’re healthier and Malkin and Crosby are playing out of this world. Their D is also better than last year. If the key Wings prove healthy, all bets are off. It becomes a pick’em series. Either way, we see this going six or seven.

Hopefully, it will to make up for a forgettable Conference Finals. We’ll see starting this Saturday.

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