WOOOO HOOOOO! After three terrible nights, the playoffs are back! We never would have thought we’d be so happy to see the VS studio guys again. Less surprising than that, though, is how happy we are to see Doc again. It looks like hockey… It sounds like hockey… Must be hockey!
Edzo really earns his paycheck when Doc asks him to pick players from each team who were key in the second round and he goes off the charts by picking Franzen and Morrow. Thanks for the hard-hitting analysis, Eddie. After a bit of time filler about those two and a short interview with Morrow, VS sends us to commercial with some of those HD studio close-ups of stars from both teams: Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Richards, and Ribiero. Ribs looks so much like Clifton Collins, Jr. in his shot that Pookie reaches for the timeworn Tigerland reference, “No really. I’m a butcher.” Don’t let your meat loaf, Ribs! (We say it every time we see him. And we laugh like it’s never been said before each time, too. Because we’re cool that way.)
Okay, those “Messin’ With Sasquatch” commercials didn’t have to come back.
When we come back from commercial, Doc informs us this game is available in HD, “the same shape as the surface this game is played on.” We love Doc more than anything, but… huh?
19:22 Pookie, slowly and stunned: “I don’t think I’ve really paid any attention to the Red Wings this season. I had completely forgotten they had Rafalski. And I had no idea he was wearing 28. He looks totally different.”
18:49 The Stars come out like gangbusters for the first shift, buzzing around the Detroit zone and just failing to connect on a couple of good chances. The whole affair leads to a Kronwall penalty that VS doesn’t see fit to tell us what it’s for, or show us a replay. Would it kill VS to pretend like it knows how to televise hockey now? They’ve been doing it for three years, so there’s really no excuse.
17:32 We get a closeup look at Raffie before a neutral-zone faceoff, and we agree that he looks like a little kid playing dress-up in his Detroit uni.
17:09 A broken play becomes a tic-tac-toe passing sequence in the Wings zone thanks to some sassy puck pursuit by the Stars, but ultimately the shot is deflected up over the glass.
16:37 The power play comes to an end and all of a sudden Detroit is up the ice in the blink of an eye and ripping a shot. Pookie states the obvious: “The Wings are fast.”
16:15 Norstrom shows off that he is, as advertised, a stiff, and fails to defend legally on a two-on-one, putting the Wings on the PP. It’s beginning to feel like the Stars kind of missed their big chance in this game by failing to convert on theirs. We’re puzzled by the organ music choice at the Joe – Pookie asks, “Why are they playing the Darth Vader theme for their own power play?”
15:41 What the hell? Fistric challenges Holmstrom after the play is stopped in the Dallas zone, then Ott skates in and gets a couple of jabs in on Holmstrom after the officials have broken things up. Fistric goes to the box for roughing. We would fully support giving the Wings a two-man advantage for the shots from Ott, but on what planet was the Fistric exchange roughing? Yeah, it’s just semantics, considering the Stars should be going down another man anyway, but Fistric doesn’t deserve to be the goat on this one.
15:32 If we were coaching the Stars, right now we’d be writing notes to ourselves for our game plan that go something like, “Don’t put the Wings on a 5-on-3.” Lidstrom’s shot from the high point beats Turco but kicks hard off the pipe, and Raffie is there to fire the rebound through a screen and in. 1-0 Detroit.
12:25 We get a stoppage on a Stars icing (because they might have survived the rest of that PK, but they’re by no means back into this game right now), and Pookie cracks, “All these shots of Raffie are making me slip more and more into the Uncanny Valley.”
12:08 No sooner do we say the Stars are out of this already than they get a power play thanks to some Holmstrom interference. The replay VS shows us is of a later infraction on the delayed call, because apparently the director of tonight’s broadcast has never seen a hockey game before.
10:58 No sooner do we say that the Stars are back in this than they look panicky and disorganized on their PP and the Wings get a series of shorthanded chances. On the last of them, the Detroit forward is flattened while trying to unload his shot in the slot, and the fans boo for a penalty, because apparently they’ve never seen a hockey game before, either.
8:58 Did we say the Stars were back in this thanks to getting a power play? Because we lied.
6:47 We are sent to commercial with a lingering pan along the Wings bench, and Schnookie announces, “The thing about the Wings – and maybe it’s because they’re all Swedish – is that they all have such handsome playoff beards.”
6:04 The Wings seem to be cycling pretty well around a calm Dallas unit, not much going on, and then a whistle from center ice stops things when a Star touches the puck. The call is against Petersen for holding, according to Doc and Edzo, but when it looks like VS is going to cut to a replay to clarify the call for everyone who missed the infraction, they just cut to the dude in the studio to give us a rundown of what we can look forward to in the intermission show. This is becoming almost comically awful.
4:26 Newsflash – the Detroit power play is really good. Franzen tips a lovely high point shot from Kronwall past Turco on a patiently set-up play, and it’s 2-0 Red Wings. It feels like a much bigger lead than that, for how little puck possession the Stars have had.
3:34 VS shows off what a kick-ass job they’re doing of bringing us all the important news in this game by mentioning only now that Lehtinen has been in the dressing room for the better part of the period getting a cut near his eye tended to. Thanks for being on the ball, VS!
2:30 Richards floats slowly toward a drop-passed puck, and a Red Wing yoinks it from him without getting any kind of fight for it. Pookie: “Well that was just lazy. If I was Tippett, I’d be throwing some garbage cans at guys heads.”
1:30 Detroit gets possession deep in Dallas’s zone again thanks to a soft and lazy turnover in the high slot. As a result, Modano ends up taking a hooking penalty. This “taking all the penalties in the first period” thing sure worked a lot better for Dallas when their opponent couldn’t score for shit on their PP.
0:41 Huh. We wonder if Franzen has a nickname. Wait, they call him “The Mule”? Really? Who knew? (Pookie adds, after the backstory of the name is explained to us, “They also call him ‘The Mule’ because he can’t resist pulling barges.” Pause. “If you know what I mean.”
0:00 The buzzer sounds on the first period, and we can’t entirely decide what we’ve seen here so far. Schnookie states the obvious when she says that the Wings looked really, really good and the Stars looked really, really bad. Pookie suggests maybe the Stars looked that bad because they were faking not being able to skate well, as if perhaps they’re laying the groundwork for a “remarkable” comeback. Boomer thinks the entire Dallas lineup looks lost, and we ponder that maybe Detroit is already deep inside their heads. Regardless, that was 20 minutes of a serious mismatch.
We leave the TV muted during the break, which seems to feature a chatty profile of Marty Biron. Is there really any other kind? Schnookie spends the entire feature saying, “Which goalie who has been super so far in the playoffs do I expect to have the wheels fall off the hardest in this round? Hmm. Which one could it be? Which one…?”
19:24 The Stars finish off the end of the PK, and then Ott cranks a long shot on goal that forces Osgood to demonstrate that he did, in fact, bother coming back on the ice after the intermission. After the way the first period went, he probably wondered if he’d need to.
18:47 The Wings are back to wheeling around the Dallas zone, and the arena is really strangely quiet. Also, no one in the lower bowl has returned to their seats. It’s been said before in a lot of places, but really. “Hockeytown” our asses.
17:08 We watch the Stars getting outworked, and Pookie remarks, “They’re not giving any second effort at all. It’s almost as if they think a pack of hyenas wouldn’t try hard.”
16:39 The sideline guy tells us that Turco was cracking about not liking to drink cold water during games because of his sensitive teeth, and Edzo tries to sound all cool when he joke, “Yeah, the old freezer-brain.” Pause. “Or brainfreeze. Whatever.” Pookie: “Freezer-brain. It’s what the Devils defenders had a lot of this season.”
14:18 The few fans in their seats think the lead has just opened up even more when Zetterberg freezes Turco, then circles around behind the net and goes for a wraparound into the gaping goalmouth, but Turco gets back with his stick across the goal line, robbing Zetterberg and leaving the sparse crowd groaning in disbelief.
14:06 Swinging the other way up the ice, Hagman gets a breakaway and Osgood has to make a scrambling save to cover it up.
13:46 Ribs takes an unconscionably stupid hooking penalty at the Stars blue line. We are well-versed in this kind of game, Stars, so you can’t fool us into thinking that you’re actually trying. You are, as the Devils did so often this season, just pretending to try.
13:21 Well, it’s 3-0 now! The Stars do another half-assed job of trying to clear out the front of Turco’s crease, and Holmstrom is right there to set up a brutal screen and tip in a nice shot from Lidstrom just above the faceoff dot.
10:32 Dallas gets its first good shift since the opening of the first period, and the Wings respond by simply laying the two biggest hits of the game. If Detroit is going to be able to top every Dallas increase of energy with some more of their own, this is going to be a really short series.
9:38 We’re busy discussing how crappy the Stars have been about trying to give Turco chances to see the shots coming at him, and fail to notice what Lidstrom did to get called for hooking. We wait in vain for VS to show us a replay.
7:38 The Wings did not miss Lidstrom much on that PK.
6:45 What is this crazy thing we’re seeing? Is it… offensive pressure by the Stars? It may very well be!
6:22 Oh wait, never mind. The Stars forecheck doesn’t yield any shots, and the Wings quickly retrieve the puck and go back to firing at will on Turco.
5:28 BOOO! HISS! We come back from a commercial to get an interview with Babcock on the bench. He’s wearing a normal-looking dark suit, a normal-looking blue shirt, and a normal-looking white-and-black polka-dotted tie, but we hate him so much just on principle that Pookie snarls, “I don’t like his outfit!”
4:24 Just as Edzo is telling us that one of the great things about this sport is that you can always come back in a game, the Wings make it look moronically easy to deftly pass your way into a semi-break, and Filppula beats Turco with a rolling puck. 4-0 Detroit, and the crowd reaction shot shows a bunch of fans who don’t even bother getting up to cheer the goal. It kind of feels like a game in November, with all the energy the Stars and the Wings fans have brought tonight.
2:58 Osgood gets to make his first totally awesome save of the game, a stabbing kick save with his toe in response to a rapid-fire flurry of Dallas shots. Six or seven fans start an “Ozzie” chant.
1:07 WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Morrow, our Stars boyfriend, outhustles a Wing defender coming out of the corner, and is right on top of Osgood to punch in the rebound of an Ott shot that came off a Detroit turnover. It’s 4-1 Wings, and, um, maybe that was something to build on for the Stars?
0:10 Datsyuk tries to get the four-goal lead back, but somehow his shot on a two-on-one down low never really gets on goal, as he hurtles into his own teammate, and then suddenly a bunch of Stars pile into the collision, too. We… have no idea what just happened there.
0:00 Despite showing some signs of life late in the period, that was not much of an improvement for Dallas over the first. Yikes.
We’re too busy making frozen hot chocolate to pay attention to intermission. Plus, we already know the origin of Octopussy.
18:39 The sideline guy gives us an update of what the Stars assistant coach said about the failures of the Dallas PK so far in this game, and the rundown includes a hope for better decision-making when down a man. Doc, ever the master of the sly put-down, asks dryly, “Can better decision-making also apply at even strength?” Heh.
17:56 Zetterberg gets called for high-sticking, and VS gives us a lingering, wide-angle shot of the crowd milling about the bowl of the arena while the organist makes a perfunctory attempt at playing time-filler music. Seriously, would it have been impossible to provide a replay of the penalty? Or a look at Morrow as the officials determine whether it should be a single or a double minor? What is VS’s problem?
15:56 The Stars never even really set up on the PP, and the highlight of the two minutes is a monster hit laid by Cleary behind the Dallas net. So much for the better decision-making by the Stars.
14:36 Toby Petersen gets checked at the far boards, and Pookie says what we’ve all been thinking: “Toby Petersen cracks me up. Because Toby reminds me of [our grandmother]’s cat Toby, and Mr. Peterson was [our good friends]’s cat.” Clearly, Petersen’s parents weren’t considering all the angles when they named him.
12:15 Oh right! There’s still a game going on. The Wings seem to be engaging in a workmanlike approach to finishing the period off as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Edzo is talking about how the Stars are showing signs of a “second wind” but we think that might be more because the Wings are on cruise control than because of anything Dallas is doing now.
10:35 Pookie: “I just heard Doc say the phrase ‘A shot in the dark’. I’m assuming he was saying that the Stars are Inspector Clouseau and the Wings are Kato.”
7:41 The Stars are buzzing a bit in the Detroit zone, and Petersen’s name comes up in the play-by-play. Pookie gives a cute little “meow” in response, then realizes she just sounded exactly like Spongebob’s pet snail. She declares, “I’m going to call him Gary now.” We don’t think that nickname would be at all confusing.
5:40 What in the hell is going on here? Turco hands the puck over to Cleary just outside the trapezoid, and Cleary feeds it to Zetterberg all alone in the slot. Perhaps Zetterberg is as surprised as everyone else that the play is happening this way, because he doesn’t get his shot off until Turco has scrambled back into the blue paint and is sitting in the goal mouth waiting for the puck.
5:26 Hey! That was just an interesting background story Doc just shared with us! It seems Kronwall’s name is misspelled on all official NHL publications because his visa was issued with the typo “Kronvall” on it. Anyone who is stuck in their employer’s HR system under a misspelled name, or can’t get their employer to recognize their nickname in place of their full name, can now think of Kronwall as a hero.
1:00 Oh, wait, the game’s still going on.
0:56 Ott rings a shot off the crossbar on a surprise rush up the near wing. Boomer remarks, though, “This game felt like it was over an hour and a half ago.”
0:40 Winchester gives VS one last chance to not show a replay of a penalty as he heads to the box following some mild scrumming.
0:29 Ott gives the Wings one last chance in this game to pad their 5-on-3 stats. The Wings fail to score on it, probably because VS curses them by actually showing a replay of the holding penalty. It only took them 59 ½ minutes to figure out how to do that.
0:00 Ouch. That wasn’t even close. Early in the first, it was mentioned in the living room of stately IPB Manor that the matchup looked like an NHL team playing a college squad. It never really got better from there. It’ll be interesting to see if this was one of those “not at all indicative of what the rest of the series will be like” Game 1 blowouts, or if this was a sign of how badly outclassed the Stars are going to be by the Wings.