Boston Bruins fans had hopes that by this point of the playoffs the rooting interests of Newfoundland would still be split between Bruins winger Michael Ryder and Detroit forward Dan Cleary.
But with the Bruins out of the postseason, that province can once again focus its enthusiasm on just one player. Boy, did Cleary ever reward their support yesterday. The veteran scored twice, just days after his game-winning goal in Game 7 against Anaheim, to help the Red Wings earn a 5-2 win over Chicago in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Joe Louis Arena.
While winger Mikael Samuelsson scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, it was the former Chicago first-round pick Cleary who really stole the show. Not only did he score twice, he also helped limit the Blackhawks’ top scoring duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kane didn’t even manage a shot on net.
Now the ‘Hawks will try to regroup and hope for better play from their stars, while the Wings will try to almost duplicate their Game 1 play. And Newfoundland is now seven Detroit wins away from another visit with the Cup.