The Seventh and Last Page of the Final Chapter: Seabrook Saves the Day
The Detroit Red Wings put up a great fight, hung tight, and gave us a few great nights. Unfortunately, it ended in heartbreak.
Everyone should be proud. First thing’s first, this game was an emotional roller coaster ride, and the Red Wings were one goal away from heading to the Western Conference Finals.
In the end, it was Chicago who was able to win three in a row and take a very tough series in seven games.
“We’re excited about where we’re at. Give Detroit credit. It was a tough series, a great series. We were on the ropes for a long time in that series, so we’re very excited about where we’re at today,” said Chicago Coach Joel Quinneville.
Chicago will be going on to face the red hot Los Angeles Kings, while Detroit will be going home to pack their bags and head home for the summer. For a team that lost Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Tomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler in the offseason, this “rebuilding” year will be considered a success by some. However, to majority of fans as well as all members of the organization, everyone acknowledges that Detroit had three chances to upset the Hawks, and they came up short each and every time.
Much like the rest of the series, Detroit was punished for their mistakes on the puck and off the puck: not clearing the zone properly, bad breakouts, little to no pressure time, and blown coverages.
When Danny Cleary was asked what he could do differently to change the outcome of the series, he responded with, “win.”
There will eventually be reports of players coming out about how they were not one hundred percent. After all, after game three, about half of the Detroit roster forgot how to play hockey, to put it loosely.
This series will also be marred by one common theme that seems to never change from year to year: officiating.
From the missed penalties to the dirty patches to the blown offsides calls to penalty shot call, this series had truly seen it all. Then game seven came along.
Deep into the third period, Brendan Saad of the Hawks tripped up Henrik Zetterberg at the blue line, resulting in a mini scrum in front of the Red Wings bench taking several players out of the rush. Henrik Zetterberg’s man was Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. He was given a wide open shot that went behind Jimmy Howard for a goal, only it was waved off.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said NBC broadcaster Ed Olczyk as the call was made.
The goal was waved off in favor of matching minors handed out to Kyle Quincey of Detroit and Saad. Arguably, it was the worst call made in this year’s playoffs.
However, karma proved to be favorable to the Blackhawks in overtime as Brent Seabrook walked in on the Detroit defense and snapped the puck past Jimmy Howard to win it for the Blackhawks.
The overtime goal represents every defenseman’s worst fear, as the shot deflected off of Niklas Kronwall’s skate as he tried to block the shot. This poses a huge weakness in the NHL’s obsession with shot blocking.
Detroit also was exposed on a weak line change on an incredible three on one passing play finished off by Patrick Sharp. ”They went for a line change, I felt that I could get maybe a breakaway opportunity,” Sharp said. “Obviously I got cut off with that. A couple of nice passes, I had an open net. It was a big goal for us.”
Zetterberg tied the game less than a minute into the third period on a nifty feed by the seemingly unstoppable Gustav Nyquist, who made such a crafty feed that Corey Crawford didn’t even budge to try to make the save on Zetterberg.
The Red Wings also played nearly the entire game without Valtteri Filppula who sustained an ankle injury on a roughing play in the first period with Andrew Shaw at the bench. It proved to be a costly loss, as the Red Wings lost a huge defensive presence who served as a chippy and gritty man on the puck.
One thing was obvious. One team came to play while the other came to try not to lose. It’s fair to say that everything turned out well in the end, as it is safe to say that the four teams that belong in the conference finals are there right now.
I may be cursed for saying this, but Chicago is a much better match for L.A. than Detroit. However, this was a great and adrenaline filled year for the Red Wings and their fans, and it proved a lot to all hockey fans; the Red Wings are not a dead franchise just because of who they lost from a year before. On the contrary, they are a team with a very bright future.
The title is also not a secret; this is the final chapter. The Red Wings will never play the Blackhawks in the playoffs again, that is, unless they both make the Stanley Cup Final in the future. Chicago will become the lone western conference original six franchise. What is a storied rivalry may have come to an end, but a new chapter is beginning for both teams.
It is with that that we can all say goodbye to the Wings for now and wish the Blackhawks the best of luck (or worst) on their run to the top.
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