The Detroit Red Wings sent a message last night to the Boston Bruins and all the remaining teams competing in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs that they’re not ready to relinquish their title as Stanley Cup champions.
Despite squandering two two-goal leads, Detroit showed the resolve of a champion and scored late to down Columbus, 6-5, and complete a four-game sweep of the Western Conference quarterfinal series. Detroit is going to be tough to beat even once, let alone four times in a best-of-seven.
Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock put into words what most think when they put forth their best effort and still come up short against the Red Wings.
“They play the game the right way,” Hitchcock said in a piece in the Detroit Free Press. “For a skill team, they get their noses dirty. They were going for the throat. When you are a championship team, you’ve got to close. They’re not resting on their laurels. They’re not just good players; they are good players that are well coached. If it isn’t one line, it’s another. That’s what happens when you are a deep hockey club and you are competing.”
That whole “not resting on their laurels” stuff has to be scary, especially to the teams in the West who’ve all (except for Vancouver) looked vulnerable. Perhaps the only team from that conference with a chance to upend the Wings is Anaheim, assuming the Ducks finish off San Jose. The Ducks’ depth and over-talented defense corps, paired with their unending ability to throw the body, could at least make the Wings alter their game plan a tad.
To their credit, the Blue Jackets went down down fighting. With the fine-tuning this summer, the Blue Jackets could have a Bruins-like breakthrough next season. They’re finally built the right way — from the goal out.
Elsewhere in the West:
•Columbus general manager Scott Howson agreed with the too-many-men call that hurt his team.
Maybe it’s time to actually push the panic button in San Jose, or at least skate with some purpose.
•The Ducks are beating the Sharks in every aspect of the game.
•Calgary forward Eric Nystrom inherited his knack for clutch goals from his dad.
•Could Chicago actually consider a goaltender rotation between Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet.