Quetzalcoatlus - #1 Detroit
Regular Season: 21-10
Playoffs: #8 Vancouver (4-0), #5 Dallas (4-1)
AdamWoodrow - #6 Calgary
Regular season: 16-19
Playoffs: #3 Boston (4-1), #7 Montreal (4-2)
Games 1-4 Recap
Calgary won a back-and-forth Game 1 in Detroit. Down 2-1 going into the 3rd, Calgary scored three unanswered, two with less than a minute remaining, and won 3-2.
Game 2 continued the back-and-forth. Detroit led by one going into the third, but Calgary was able to tie it up early. A scramble around the net with two minutes remaining left the Detroit net wide open, but Al MacInnis fired wide. Calgary was then called for a penalty, which Detroit immediately took advantage of, and added one more for good measure. Final score, 6-4 Detroit.
Games 3 and 4 in Calgary were both tilted in Calgary's favor. Calgary won Game 3 6-2 and Game 4 6-3. Both games were tilted in favor of Calgary. In both games, Calgary jumped to early leads, never looked back, and clamped down defensively.
(Calgary coach perspective) Being up 3-1 didn't matter to me. Q won the regular season series 3-1, plus, his manual goalie is so good. I knew it was entirely possible that he could reel off three straight. I felt good about my defense and thought I might be able to shut him down one final time.
Back in Detroit for Game 5, the Red Wings were in a do-or-die situation. This time, though, the Wings took the early lead; one goal from Steve Yzerman and the other shorthanded from Sergei Fedorov. But, three late penalties, one to Yzerman, put Detroit's back against the wall as the period came to a close. The defense was tight in this one with both teams only having two shots in the period. Lucky for Detroit, both found the back of the net.
(Calgary coach perspective) With Yzerman in the box, I knew this was the chance I needed. Yzerman was smoking me in the dot all series long. Finally, a couple of draws without him.
Calgary came out blazing to start the second and got an early power play goal from Gary Suter. Unable to capitalize on the remaining power play time, Calgary continued the pressure, but Detroit was ready. Throughout the period, the ice remained titled in Calgary's favor. They won the 50-50 puck battles, and successfully poke checked Detroit's top players all period long. Detroit finished with zero shots, while Calgary put up five.
As they entered the third, Calgary continued the pressure on offense and defense. Each time Detroit readied a shot, Calgary was there for a poke. Then, finally, at 3:03 Calgary got the tying goal from Theoren Fleury. He spent most of the game throwing his body around, and his relentless work finally paid off. As the seconds ticked away, overtime was looking like a possibility.
But, with 35 seconds left, Al MacInnis came flying down the right side of the ice with one defender closely on his tail. Calgary was looking for the center-drive one-timer, but Detroit was ready. Only this time, while defending the pass, the puck ricocheted off of the Detroit defender and through Tim Cheveldae! Calgary was up 3-2 with 35 seconds remaining!
(Calgary coach perspective) I hate own goals and definitely didn't want to win that way. I didn't want to celebrate because in this league anyone can score off the face-off in under ten seconds.
Detroit didn't even flinch. They regrouped quickly, Dino Ciccarelli won the ensuing face-off, took it to the net and scored! Eight seconds later it was 3-3 with 28 seconds remaining! What a battle. Both teams traded the puck back-and-forth for the remainder of the third period. Overtime we go.
Calgary won the first faceoff in overtime and immediately went to the attack zone. Shortly after, the guy who tied the game for Detroit in the 3rd, Dino, took a costly penalty that led to a penalty shot for Gary Roberts. A penalty shot in overtime!
(Calgary coach perspective) I've been horrible at penalty shots both ways all season. I didn't have much faith because Q is one of the best manual goalies I played against this season.
The whistle blew, and Roberts took off down the middle of the ice with speed. At the dots, Roberts came to a halt anticipating Chevldae to make the first move, but instead, he held his spot. In a stand-off that felt like an eternity, neither player budged. Chelveldae eventually made his move, but just as Roberts shoulder-faked and buried his forehand into the back of the net to win the championship!
(Calgary coach perspective) My only hope was to get Q to make the first move. Once he didn't, I was kinda stuck because I had no momentum. Luckily for me, I made my move just as he moved, so I was able to deke around him and end it.
What an amazing ending and series!
Series by the Numbers
After ripping 11 and 13 shots in Games 1 and 2 respectively, Detroit struggled to get shots on net in Games 3-5. In Game 5 alone, they were held to just five.
Detroit's biggest advantage was in the face-off circle winning 63% of the draws.
C-Checks were a push. In Game 2, Calgary doubled up Detroit, but Detroit flipped the script in Game 3. Games 1, 4, and 5 were roughly a 50/50 split. Nik Lidstrom led Detroit with 32, Theoren Fleury had 28.
Gary Roberts led the series in scoring with ten goals and three assists, followed by teammate Thereon Fleury with six goals and five assists. Stevey Y led Detroit in scoring, getting nine points (five goals, four assists) while Sergei Fedorov finished with five goals and two assists for seven points.