2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Blog - Conference Quarter-finals
Down 3-0 in their opening-round Western Conference series and facing elimination on home ice in Game 4 Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jackets are running out of time because the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings steadfastly refuse to give them any space.
“They check hard,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Wings. “Everybody talks about their skill, but Detroit wins the fight for space, individually and collectively. That’s why they win so many hockey games. Yeah, they have skill, but in critical games, they win the fight for space. Regardless of what happens, if you don’t fight for your own space, you’re going to get run out of the building. They beat a lot of good teams by doing that.”
The Wings weren’t about to debate Hitchcock’s thesis and are quite happy that many in the game don’t recognize this element of their team. “We’re way more physical [in the playoffs],” Detroit goalie Chris Osgood said. “We’ve been around the block a few times. We know what it takes to win in the playoffs.
“Guys are sacrificing their bodies, not only bodychecks, but blocking shots, sliding across the ice to block passes from getting in front, tackling guys in front - whatever it takes to keep it out of our net and score in their net.”
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom likes that the Wings are playing physically, but appreciates even more that are using common sense when they use the body against the Blue Jackets, not getting involved in post-whistle shenanigans. “We’re being physical and we were physical at the right times,” Lidstrom said. “We’re trying to be a physical team and we’re trying to be hard to play against. That’s the way you have to play in the playoffs.”
Not The Answer
Hitchcock reiterated at Wednesday’s optional practice that there was no way that either rookie centre Derick Brassard, who’d recorded 10-15-25 totals in 31 games when he went out at Christmas due to shoulder surgery, or rookie forward Nikita Filatov, the club’s top pick in the 2008 National Hockey League entry draft, will be suiting up Thursday for Game 4.
“They are in a growth period now and they are gaining experience from watching us compete,” Hitchcock said. “Tryouts are in September, not now."
Dance With Who Brung Ya
Hitchcock indicated that to make major roster shuffe atl this stage would be insulting to the players who earned the Blue Jackets this first-ever playoff berth.
“This is a hockey club that put its heart and soul into everything,” Hitchcock said. “It wouldn't look good on me as a coach if we bailed on people who have given us everything this season.”
Hitchcock said if he was inclined to make a change, forwards Jiri Novotny, Andrew Murray and Alexandre Picard were ahead of those two on the depth chart.
The only lineup concern involves defenceman Jan Hejda, who limped off after blocking a shot in Game 3 with his right ankle. X-rays were negative, but Hejda did not skate Wednesday . . . Centre R.J. Umberger indicated he was fine after absorbing a punishing hit from Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart in the second period Tuesday that left Umberger in need of assistance to get off the ice. In fact, he felt that the check helped straighten out a stiff neck that had been bothering him. “Now it feels great,” Umberger said with a laugh. “It's better than what the chiropractor could do.”
Hitchcock made only one promise regarding his team: “We’re going to compete right until the end and we’ll see."
At Least They Aren’t Record Breakers
With two goals through three games, the Blue Jackets won’t be record setters if they are shut out and eliminated Thursday. The Stanley Cup record for the fewest goals scored a team during a four-game sweep was set by the Minnesota Wild, who tallied once against Anaheim in the 2003 Western Conference final.
Noting that they put eight by Detroit during a regular-season win at Joe Louis Arena, Umberger believes the key to turning up the attack is to attack the net in front of Osgood.
“We aren't the most prolific scoring team, but we have scored goals and we have gotten to Osgood before,” Umberger said. “It's definitely the key to this series is to attack him and we have left him off the hook.”
- Penguins' Talbot cements reputation as big-game player
- Saturday, June 13, 2009
- Red Wings too late in arriving in Game 7
- Saturday, June 13, 2009
- Penguins sticking to regular routines
- Friday, June 12, 2009
- Babcock low-key all the way for Game 7
- Friday, June 12, 2009
- Rafalski shares Game 7 Stanley Cup wisdom
- Thursday, June 11, 2009
- Stanley Cup Final (44)
- DET vs. PIT (44)
- Conference Finals (28)
- Conference Semifinals (68)
- Conference Quarter-finals (130)
- Teams (28)
- Anaheim Ducks (35)
- Boston Bruins (35)
- Calgary Flames (17)
- Carolina Hurricanes (57)
- Chicago Blackhawks (48)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (13)
- Detroit Red Wings (83)
- Montreal Canadiens (14)
- New Jersey Devils (24)
- New York Rangers (12)
- Philadelphia Flyers (16)
- Pittsburgh Penguins (78)
- San Jose Sharks (17)
- St. Louis Blues (11)
- Vancouver Canucks (27)
- Washington Capitals (26)