Red Wings win Cup
After 42 years Lord Stanley's Cup returned to Detroit. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, to complete a four-game sweep and win the Cup. It is the third year in a row that the Cup has been swept.
Philadelphia, after being dominated in the first three games, mustered a respectable effort in Game 4. The Flyers pressured the Red Wings most of the first period and were visibly deflated when Detroit scored with 33 seconds left in the period. The decisive moment of the game came in the second period when Detroit's Darren McCarty skated around rookie defenseman Janne Niinimaa and then fooled goalie Ron Hextall and put the puck in the empty net to give the Red Wings 2-0 lead. McCarty, who is better known as a tough physical player than a skilled puck handler was extatic about the goal. " You guys thought I was Stevie or Sergei, didn't you." McCarty said. "Every blind squirrel finds a nut and I guess I found mine in the right place." McCarty added.
Aftermath of the Finals will last long in Philadelphia. How could a team, who dominated the New York Rangers in the Conference finals, lose it's confidence and composure like the Flyers did in the Finals? Heads will roll in Philadelphia and The HockeyNut predicts that first to go will be coach Terry Murray. His waffling with goaltenders was unprofessional at best and his ill-advised "choke" remarks after Game 3 failed to kick-start the team and only added one more unnecessary distraction.
More alarming for Philadelphia was the failure of Eric Lindros to show any leadership when it was needed from him. Lindros, whose chidhood hero was Mark Messier, appeared confused and listless and he was limited to one goal in the finals.
Detroit one away from the Cup
John LeClair gave the Flyers their first lead in the series by scoring a first-period power-play goal. It turned out to be the only goal for Philadelphia and the lead very short-lived. Excactly two minutes after LeClair's goal, Steve Yzerman took a pass from Vyacheslav Kozlov and ripped a shot past Ron Hextall. The Flyers never recovered and the game turned into a blowout, Sergei Fedorov and Martin Lapointe scoring two goals each and Brendan Shanahan one goal.
What's up, Eric?
Brendan Shanahan scored two goals, Steve Yzerman and Kirk Maltby had a goal each for the Red Wings. The hero of Game 1, Joe Kocur had one assist as did Sergei Fedorov and Slava Fetisov of Detroit's Russian Unit. The Red Wings are 14-0 in the playoffs when any of the Russians score a point and 0-4 when they fail.
Losing the first two games at home certainly wasn't the Flyers' game plan and it remains to be seen how devastated the team is. Can Philadelphia regroup and defeat the Red Wings in Detroit? The goalie controversy is another thing Philadelphia was hoping to avoid. Which goalie to start in Game 3 will be the toughest decision coach Murray faces in the coming days, since both net minders have have faltered in the Finals.
Detroit wins Game 1
The stage is set for a battle This year's Stanley Cup finals features a much anticipated match-up between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings. Altough the Flyers are a favorite in the general opinion, The HockeyNut predicts an even and exciting series between the Conference Champions.
The Flyers are the biggest team in the league and their Legion of Doom line with Eric Lindros, John Leclair and now Dainius Zubrus is the most famous line in contemporary hockey. Rod Brind'Amour has also excelled in the playoffs scoring 10 goals and 17 points. Philadelphia has been cruising in the playoffs so far, defeating Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Rangers in five games each. The question is have the Flyers been tested yet? What will happen if they face adversary? One possible roadblock for the Flyers is goalie controversy. Garth Snow started the playoffs but lost the job to veteran Ron Hextall.
The Detroit Red Wings '97 are a different team from the one that was swept in the finals by the New Jersey Devils in 1995 and the one that lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the Conference Finals last year. The Red Wings are a bigger team designed for playoffs. Detroit lives and dies with their Russian unit, dubbed the Wizards of Ov's. When they score, the Red Wings usually win. Detroit is coming off an emotionally draining Conference final series against the Colorado Avalanche. Can they muster as much hate towards the Flyers and play with same intensity as they did against the Avalanche? It will be the Red Wings attempt to end the longest drought in the NHL; Detroit hasn't won the Cup since 1955.
Red Wings win the West
Flyers to Stanley Cup finals
Copyrightę1997 The HockeyNut