Red Wings Take 3-2 Series Lead Marred By Ugly Incident

By Bryan Jeon

The Detroit Red Wings coasted to a 5-1 victory over the Calgary Flames Saturday, taking a 3-2 lead in the first-round series. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom had 4 assists and Dominik Hasek had an impressive 23 saves for the Red Wings however, the Flames got more and more physical as the game went on, incited by their frustration in comparison with the score.

There were 70 penalty minutes, 47 by the Flames, but there were many more scuffles than were indicated in the box score, including by center Daymond Langkow, who seemed to be more interested in fighting than playing hockey. (I loved the part where Langkow started getting tough and picking fights with all the Red Wings players and when he got to Todd Bertuzzi, he received a body slam from the big 10-year vet. Maybe I do like Bertuzzi on my team now.) 

Things got really ugly when Miikka Kiprusoff exited the ice for backup goalie Jamie McLennan with just a few minutes left in the game. With the Red Wings already on a power play, McLennan slashed Johan Franzen in the midsection with 2:59 to go, dropping Franzen immediately. McLennan received a 10-minute game misconduct and match penalty for the action, forcing Kiprusoff to come right back on the ice after just 18 seconds.

I think McLennan may have a “personal vendetta” against Franzen, who he repeatedly smacked with his stick just moments earlier when Franzen was just standing in front of him, with his back turned towards McLennan. Just a vicious swing by McLennan, which caught Franzen completely by surprise.

McLennan has been suspended for five games, Calgary coach Jim Playfair fined $25,000 and the Flames organization fined $100,000 for four late-game penalties incurred by players aggressively or illegally using their sticks. 

I felt that an appropriate length to suspend McLennan should have been the entire rest of the playoffs. With NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attempting to crack down on the illegal use of the stick, there is zero tolerance for this action, which needs to be removed from the game entirely through hard punishments as needed. Unfortunately, the result is another weak suspension by Bettman after we thought he was going in the right direction with the stiff 25-game suspension handed to the New York Islanders’ Chris Simon last month for his vicious swinging of the stick.

Now, McLennan can come back in Game 4 of the next round if the Flames can rally for a series win over Detroit. Just unbelievable cowardship displayed by Bettman. Forget the chump change fine handed to the organization and go after the player directly is what I say.

Some interesting notables:

  • Each one of the six goals was either a power play or shorthanded goal (3 each).
  • Daniel Cleary converted the first successful penalty shot during the playoffs in Detroit history (shorthanded, too).
  • Chris Chelios added a shorthanded goal for the Red Wings, making him the oldest player to score a shorty in the regular season or playoffs, at age 45. (Gordie Howe is the oldest player to score a postseason goal at 52 years of age.)
  • Chelios is also in the playoffs for an NHL-record 22nd time and scored in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, ending a 41-game drought.
  • The Red Wings have outshot Calgary in every game this series and have now taken 200 shots compared to the Flames’ 108 (an average of 40 to 21 per game).

Game 6 heads to Calgary Sunday at 6p.

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