Like everyone else, Red Wings trying to understand what’s happened — and what could happen — in the playoffs
© The Associated Press
In this file photo, Detroit Red Wings' forward Dan Cleary (11) skates the puck up the ice as Chicago Blackhawks' defenceman Duncan Keith (2) chases him during an NHL game in Chicago. A Red Wings-Blackhawks second-round playoff series is no longer a possibility, so the next possible matchup for Detroit, which swept the Phoenix Coyotes in the opening round, will be against either San Jose or Nashville.
DETROIT — With at least a couple of more days before they know who they’ll play in the second-round, the Detroit Red Wings hit the couch with TV remote in hand to catch the playoff action over the weekend.
What they saw reminded them how important it was that they took care of business as quickly as possible in the first round.
“You look at other series and other situations and it’s amazing what momentum can do in other series,” Detroit forward Kris Draper said. “That’s why when we had that first opportunity to knock Phoenix out, that’s what we wanted to do.
“It’s nice to sit back and watch. Every other night, you’re cheering for another team. Keep the series going as long as you can.”
The Wings won’t resume action until either Thursday or Friday and aren’t sure whether they’ll open at home or on the road.
If the Vancouver Canucks are eliminated in Game 7 tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings will open the second round at home against the Nashville Predators. If the Canucks advance, the Wings will start on the road against the San Jose Sharks, who beat Los Angeles in overtime Monday night to get past the Kings in six games.
Forward Dan Cleary has been among the more studious Wings in attempting to understand the Western Conference. However, the Riverhead, Harbour Grace native can’t figure out outcomes any better than Joe Fan.
“Obviously, Chicago and Vancouver is pretty intriguing,” Cleary said. “What’s transpired is pretty amazing. I couldn’t believe (goalie Cory Schneider played instead of Roberto Luongo).
Cleary said what’s stood out for him is the resiliency of teams.
“Just when you think it’s going to be over or should be over, all of sudden teams are showing a lot of life, especially Chicago,” he said about the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who have come back from losing the first three games of their series with the Canucks to force Game 7 tonight in Vancouver.
Luongo (see story, page C2)) isn’t the only netminder struggling in the first round. Philadelphia has a revolving door on the goal crease, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury is either brilliant or pulled in his games, while the Kings’ Jonathan Quick and Sharks’ Antti Niemi were taking turns struggling in their series.
The Wings avoided such goaltending controversies after Jimmy Howard turned in a solid first round.
“Not at all,” said Howard when asked if felt sorry for his goaltending brethren.
“Nope, because you know that could be you and they wouldn’t feel bad for you.”
In particular, Howard is amazed at how the Flyers are still alive considering they’ve had three different starting goalies in their series against Buffalo.
“I think it’s pretty wild what’s going on in Philly.” Howard said. “Something seems to be working for them whenever somebody gets pulled. It’s crazy the way things go this time of year.
“It just goes to show, no matter what the score is, teams can come back these days.”
The Wings are ready to get going again. The time off has allowed Henrik Zetterberg to get himself ready to start the second round.
Johan Franzen didn’t practise with the team Monday, but skated by himself afterward. Wings coach Mike Babcock said the winger is ready to start the next round as well.
Though he’s anxious to play, Zetterberg admits a couple more days will help him get back close to full health. Wednesday will mark three weeks since he sprained his left knee.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve played a game,” Zetterberg said.
“You want to play, but at the same time, it’s nice to see other teams play more games and laying out each other.”