Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thomas Holmstrom Leads Detroit Red Wings Past Ducks in Game Three

As surprised as I was that The Detroit Pistons were blown out by the Chicago Bulls at home tonight, I may be even more surprised that the Detroit Red Wings blew out the Anaheim Ducks at their home stadium, chasing goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the second period and winning 5-0. Thomas Holmstrom, who took a brutal hit into the boards in the second period (video below), came back in the third period, netting an assist to go along with two goals, as the Detroit Red Wings took a 2-1 series lead, stealing home ice advantage back from the Ducks.
AP Photo
After being outplayed by the Ducks for the majority of the first two games at home, the Red Wings looked like a different team on the west coast. They were physical, they had a jump in their step that they were missing in the first two games, and they were the better team from the drop the puck in the first period. And they didn't waste anytime getting on the scoreboard, as Johan Franzen scored to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead just over 10 minutes into the game.

Not satisfied with a one goal edge, the Wings kept the pressure on in the closing minutes of the first period, and with under a minute to go, Thomas Holmstrom scored to make it 2-0 Wings going into the first intermission.

The Red Wings put the game away early in the second period. The Ducks, had they come out of the first intermission with some fire, may have had a chance to make a game of it, but Todd Bertuzzi and Holmstrom scored 17 seconds apart four minutes into the second period (off of different goalies no less as Jean-Sebastien Giguere was pulled after Bertuzzi's goal) and the game was over at that point (sort of how the Bulls put the game away against the Pistons with their third quarter run).

But, there was a spot of controversy (and concern for Wings fan) when Thomas Holmstrom was smashed along the boards by Chris Pronger and Rob Niedermayer, seemingly knocking him unconscious. The injury looked series, and the hit itself was brutal, getting Niedermayer a five minute major boarding penalty and a game misconduct (though Pronger got off without penalty).

Holmstrom, though, is a hockey player, and wouldn't you know it, despite how it looked, he was back out on the ice in the third period, and even assisted on the Wings fifth goal scored by Valtteri Filppula. Holmstrom's return was a relief, because he has proven himself this playoff as one of, if not the, most valuable Red Wing, and losing him would have been devastating.

Instead, though, the Wings will take a 2-1 series lead into Game Four, and they have the Ducks on their heels. As I've learned from the Pistons though, no series lead is safe, and once you think you have a team on the ropes, they rise up, but should the Wings win Game Four, and take both in Anaheim, we may be looking at another trip to the Stanley Cup Finals (but, again, let's not get ahead of ourselves).

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