Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fracas at the finish! Game 2: Det 2, Dal 1

As the clock wound down on a gritty 2-1 Stars loss in Game 2, I was just getting ready to leave my seat at the bar (again, Versus Network?) when I saw the usually cool-character Mike Ribeiro attempt to chop down a tree.  He swung his stick hatchet-style across the chest of Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, sending him to the ice.

WOW.  What set that off?

Turns out it was Osgood, who butt-ended his stick into Ribeiro's face as the Stars center skated past him.

Either way, the exchanged escalated into a post-game broohaha that will surely lead to high emotions and an extremely physical Game 3 in Dallas.  I would hope neither Ribeiro or Osgood is suspended because both play such key roles for their team that to not see one of these two taking the ice for Game 3 would cheat us out of what I'm expecting to become a great series.

That being said, Ribeiro probably over-reacted (granted, I've never taken the end of a hockey stick to my chin while harmlessly skating by), but Osgood really embraced his role of the victim.  There are no small roles, just small actors.  For wearing all that padding, Osgood seemed to put on a hell of a performance.

Osgood says it was an accident, but I don't know if I can believe that based on how he said it.

Ribeiro was assessed a match penalty, which brings with it a mandatory review by the league office and might result in a suspension.

“When he went by, Osgood put his stick in the face,” Tippett said. “Ribeiro was actually letting up. He’s not going to do that unless he’s provoked. Whether Osgood thought he was going to run or not...”

“Even if I did butt into him, it was an accident,” Osgood said. “I was more or less trying to protect our best player, making sure they didn’t get a clean run at him with two seconds left. If I did, it was an accident. But I don’t think that justified a two-hander over the top of the net. He could have went about it a different way or said something to me.”

Osgood says he was trying to protect his own guy. Well, if he was then the only protective effort he demonstrated was putting the end of his stick into Ribeiro's face. Maybe he wasn't trying to hit him in the face, but Osgood butting him with his stick was no accident.  (more thoughts on Ribeiro/Osgood from DMN Stars blog)

The post-game ordeal put an exclamation point on what wasn't as one-sided a game as it appeared. Watching the game, I felt the Stars were in it simply because they only trailed by one goal (unlike Game 1 where things got out of hand). But beyond the actual score, the Stars found themselves dominated in many facets of the game.

Detroit won 39 faceoffs, to the Stars' 16, good for 70% of the draws. Not only that, but the Red Wings continued to take the puck away from the Stars (8 to 2 in takeaways). The Wings were more physical, outhitting the Stars 39-26. But the biggie, shots on goal, proved to be the most disappointing. Dallas took 18 shots. 

Let's take a look at the shots on goal from Dallas' first two series.

Vs. ANA: 37, 30, 33, 20, 42, 26 (188 total, 31.3 shots per game)

Vs. SJ: 18, 26, 29, 18, 26, 55 (172 total, 28.7 shots per game);
(oh, and if we do the math to count 4OT Game 6 as two games when taking this average - it was longer than two games - then it works out to 24.6 shots per game)

Vs. DET: 21, 18 (19.5 shots per game thru 2 games)

Dallas isn't forcing Osgood to make enough saves (17 in Game 2). The more often the puck gets to the net, the more chances for a rebound, a goofy bounce, or for Osgood to simply miss one. The guys in front of Osgood did a great job limited Dallas' shots and blocking ones that did get off making things easier for their netminder.

The Stars did have chances to even things up in the final period, but simply couldn't convert.  So while I'm disappointed in the loss and the 0-2 series deficit, it could have been worse.  (By comparison, I'm not nearly as upset as I am over the subpar series finale of Scrubs on NBC.  That show better get picked up by ABC - as is rumored - to sort a few things out, or I will be less than thrilled.  Seriously, is that how things will end between JD and Elliot?  How did Kelso get back?  And why did Keith reappear after being gone for 5-6 episodes? "Frick!") (review of Scrubs finale)

So as this Western Conference Final (yes, back to hockey) heads south to Big D, the Stars find themselves in a 0-2 hole, the likes of which is unfamiliar to this team. They had not trailed in either previous series in these playoffs. Going back to 2001, when the Stars trail in a series by 2 games, they are 0-5. When Dallas was down 3-1 last year to Vancouver, they were able to force a Game 7 thanks to superb goaltending by Marty Turco. Perhaps some more great work between the pipes and a little bit of home cooking is what these Stars need.

Game 3, Monday, May 12 @ American Airlines Center
Puck drops at 7pm central time

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