Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Detroit Red Wings - Calgary Flames Game III

I hate these late games. Nevermind the fact that the Detroit Red Wings belong in the Eastern Conference, where they can play Toronto on a more than a once a year basis. These late playoff games are brutal for fans and the travel is unfair to the Wings players. Anaheim. Los Angeles. Vancouver. Edmonton. Calgary. These 10:00 starts. Just exhausting. May as well be playing in Juneau.

Oh, you came here to read about the game, not listen to me whine about the time of the game? Okay then. Well, it was what I think most people expected. Calgary came out fired up in the first period and the crowd was jumping. And Detroit drew the first penalty, which may have been the best bet of the whole day. But, the Wings killed off the penalty, and got back into their game, and played the first period to a stalemate, which on the road, with how desperate Calgary was to win Game 3 to give themselves a semblance of a chance to comeback in the series, was a small victory.

The second period was also a stalemate, but at least it involved some scoring. Calgary opened the scoring, but Detroit's Kris Draper answered shortly thereafter, tying the game at 1-1, which was the score headed into the third period. And, then, suddenly, the fear of an overtime game hit me, as I realized that since it was 11:50 p.m. just as the second intermission began, if the game went into overtime, I probably shouldn't even bother going to bed.

Well, the third period, thought we had it there for a minute. Dan Cleary's huge hit leading to Kris Draper's second goal of the game, giving the Red Wings a 2-1 lead, I thought was going to be it. Sap the will of the Flames. But, they didn't quit, and scored two quick goals to take a 3-2 lead, which was the score when the game ended. The Red Wings first loss in the 2007 playoffs.

Game Four now becomes really critical. It will allow the Wings to wrap up the series in 5 games, and will avoid what would be a truly awful Game 5 and Game 6 on back-to-back nights in Detroit then Calgary (whoever scheduled that needs to either lose their job. I understand scheduling games around national television, but to force the Wings and Calgary to play back-to-back nights in cities almost 2,000 miles apart, is just cruel). Plus, it'll stop any momentum Calgary has from tonight's victory.

Other notes of interest? Todd Bertuzzi was back, and while he didn't make an immediate impact, once he gets his legs back under him, and starts playing the physical hockey we all know he is capable of, the Wings will obviously benefit.

In other Detroit sports news,the Tigers won tonight, in a game which they looked to have in hand, looked to have lost, then won again. Two quick observations from the game. First, this team never gives up. No lead is ever insurmountable, and even if the team falls behind and blows a lead, they battle back. They really have taken on the personalty of their manager, Jim Leyland, and that's great news. And secondly, Placido Polanco, what a player he is. Rod Allen said during a game last week that Polanco would win a batting title before all is said and done, and maybe he's right, but Polanco is a shoo-in for the 2007 All Star Game and is a hitting machine. He won them tonight's game and it won't be the only one he wins for the team this season.

And with that, I'm going to sleep. At least Thursday night's Red Wings game is at 9:30, giving me at least a half hour respite.

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