CHICAGO – The Penguins players and coaches may want to set aside the film of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals for further review, because it contains an important message for Stanley Cup hopefuls such as theirs.
Much like they did against the Penguins one year ago, the Detroit Red Wings taught the young Chicago Blackhawks another painful lesson in postseason hockey at the United Center on Sunday afternoon.
Namely, focus plus discipline plus composure equal success.
The result was a 6-1 embarrassment in front of a national television audience, one that left the Red Wings within one victory of a probable rematch against the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Blackhawks seemed to be more intent on payback for the monster hit that dazed forward Martin Havlat in Game 3 than the actual score.
“We want to play the game as physical was we can between the whistles and not do a whole lot of talking after the whistles,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock issued a subtle reminder. “When you’re hyped up and excited, sometimes you cross the line, and unfortunately, that’s what happened to them today.”
The victory also
underscored the extent of the Red Wings depth, as they were able to dominate without perhaps their two best players – defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (lower-body injury) and center Pavel Datsyuk (sore foot).
Both could be available for Game 5 in Detroit on Wednesday night.
Four different Red Wings scored, led by Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg with two goals apiece.
“People say that you need skill. I really believe that,” Babcock said. “But at this time of year, it’s all about will, determination and execution.”
The game turned late in the first period, when forward Johan Franzen surprised Blackhawks goaltender Cristobal Huet with a laser from the top of the right circle to give his team a 2-0 lead.
The puck whistled between the legs of defenseman Brian Campbell into the top left corner of the net.
At the close of the period, defenseman Matt Walker was called for a roughing penalty, the first of three against the Blackhawks in a span of eight minutes. The Red Wings responded with three goals, two of them with the manpower advantage.
In a feeble attempt to deflect blame from his team, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said the Walker infraction was “probably the worst call in the history of sports.”
Defenseman Brent Seabrook was closer to the truth when he said of the next game, “We have to play the complete opposite of the way that we played today.”