Wow. All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not a Blackhawks fan today. That had to be painful to watch from the other side. Not only did the Wings absolutely dominate, but the Hawks embarrassed themselves and their fans by throwing hissy fits all over the ice. Whereas upon finding themselves down three goals in the second period in Game 2, the Wings rallied and pushed the Hawks to overtime, the Blackhawks simply rolled over and threw a childish little temper tantrum. I guess the Wings just wrote the book on how to beat the Hawks. While Anaheim's roughing and assorted goonery made me angry, (I can't even tell you how much time I spent yelling at the TV during round 2), watching the Hawks try it just...made me laugh. They looked utterly pathetic. It would've been sad if it wasn't so amusing.
Seriously though, sunshines, this wasn't a pretty win. This was the inevitable triumph of composure and class over childish antics. Chalk one up for the good guys. Every once in a while, the world seems alright.
Pre-game, I was a wreck. I assumed Datsyuk would be out again despite the glimmer of hope Babs offered in his presser yesterday, but when one of my co-workers informed me that Lidstrom was out, I just about threw up. At first I thought she was joking, but then I saw Chelios skating by on TV and my worst fears were realized.
True to Brian Campbell's word, the Hawks decided to run around and try to goon it up. They played right into Mike Babcock's hands. He pretty much dared them to try it during his presser yesterday. It turns out that they're spectacularly bad at this. At least when the Ducks acted like goons, they managed to avoid taking penalties. Although to be fair, you have to believe the refs were looking out for that what with Wings' series MVP Campbell announcing it beforehand. It makes me spectacularly sad to think that this moron is making ten times more money than I will in my entire life just to screw his own team over.
Also, Campbell was on the ice for four goals against. A+, Carrot Top.
Perhaps my favorite part was when Versteeg decided to take consecutive stupid penalties, further harming his team's cause. I'm pretty sure Quenville put him in a time-out when he finally got back to the bench.
Apologies for sounding disjointed, but I honestly don't even know what to make of this. I don't recall ever witnessing a meltdown of this magnitude. At one point, the refs probably wondered if they'd been sent to some strange referee hell where they were doomed to break up brawling high schoolers for all eternity. I've been making fun of the Hawks' youth by calling them teenagers, but tonight they were acting more like babies. It looked like the Wings were babysitting a bunch of toddlers in the throes of their Terrible Twos. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure at one point I saw Kris Versteeg laying at center ice pounding and kicking the ice. Chelios had to stifle a reflex to yell at him to gett off of his lawn.
Part of the blame has to go to Joel Quenville and his little tantrum at the start of the second. At the time, I didn't know what he was yelling about because I didn't realize any penalties had been called. Looking back, I can see why I missed the call because I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything worth calling, but it's OK, because it gave me another favorite presser moment. In his post-game, Quenville referred to it as the "worst call in the history of sports." Way to step right into the high-school melodrama there, Joel. The worst call ever? Seriously? You're going to say that after Kronner's excessive penalization in Game 3? And after The Goal That Wasn't in the last round? Or the hundreds of disgusting calls and non-calls that have been plaguing the entire playoffs, league-wide? Get over yourself. You made an fool of yourself today, and trying to brush it aside like you were making some kind of righteous argument only makes you look worse.
Aside from that, I really want to know what Ben Eager said to the ref when he got his first misconduct. I'm not kidding. I feel like that would be a useful turn of phrase to have in my arsenal.
On the Wings' side, I was delighted to see the big guns step up in the absence of Datsyuk and Lidstrom. If somebody could just find a way to convince Marian Hossa that every game is Game 4, a lot of my stress would be relieved. I suggest renaming them Game 4.1, Game 4.2, and so on. Game 4.5 is coming up on Wednesday, so look out. (Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch it, unless I can convince my friend to spend three hours of Cedar Point time holed up in a bar watching TV.)
Speaking of big guns, it was nice to see Z score a couple of goals with the goalie still in the net. So much for his empty-net record attempt.
I also have to give an honorary star of the game to Ken Holland. The Wings' ability to replace Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, two of the best players in the world, and roll on without a hitch tonight is due in large part to his overall brilliance. The rookies didn't contribute a whole lot offensively tonight, but they put in some solid minutes and were a lot less self-destructive than highly-paid veteran Brian Campbell. (The more I start to dislike someone, the more frequently they find their way into my discussions.) When a lot of other teams throw their rookies out, it's to eat up junk minutes and you spend their entire shift white-knuckling whatever is within reach. Not so with the Wings' rookies who've stepped in. They've been turning in solid performance after solid performance and are defensively responsible enough that I don't find myself holding my breath whenever they're on the ice.
I was fairly concerned when Ozzie didn't play the third period, but Babs has (for now) put my nerves at ease by explaining it away as dehydration. (Question: How does a goalie, who stands around next to two water bottles for the whole game, manage to get dehydrated? Especially when his team spends most of the period playing target practice with the back of the Hawks' net.) We'll see how that pans out, but I guess it was good to see Conks get some playoff action in which he didn't surrender a crucial, back-breaking goal.
The one big downside: ANOTHER friggin powerplay goal surrendered. Seriously guys? This is starting to get frustrating. I also feel like they might be attempting to set a record for most delay of game penalites in a single playoff run. Oh well, Hossa shut the crowd up pretty quickly after that and things were all downhill for Chicago from then on.
And PS: I noticed there weren't a whole lot of "Detroit sucks" chants going on tonight. Wonder why?