KELLEY: Red Wings bury Avs, make history

Share This Story

Jim Kelley



The Detroit Red Wings buried a champion Friday night. By the scoreboard it was a loss for the ages. By the standards heretofore put forth by goaltender Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche it was the athletic equivalent of a cremation. In beating the Avalanche, 7-0, Friday in the Joe Louis Arena, the Wings not only disposed of the defending Stanley Cup champions and their hopes of repeating. They also may have laid to rest the legend of invincibility for Patrick Roy, the winningest goaltender of all time. In a victory that was every bit as easy as it was stunning, the Red Wings posted the largest margin of victory in a seventh game in NHL playoff history. "We were actually contemplating a real tight game," said Detroit coach Scott Bowman. "We expected a lot of close checking." In a series that featured remarkable one-goal wins and three overtime sessions one would think Bowman had sized it right. Instead, it was a blowout. This was supposed to be a dramatic and well-contested Game 7 for the National Hockey League's Western Conference title and the right to play for the Stanley Cup. It was, arguably, the most anticipated Game 7 in recent Stanley Cup playoff history. Instead it became a walkover, the result of a miserable performance by Roy, a performance that may well have incinerated his heretofore well-earned status as the money goaltender in the game today. Roy was so awful that no amount of apologizing, excuse making or redirection statements will mask the totality of his collapse. Certainly he has had bad games and even bad playoff games before. Yet in giving up four first-period goals in just under 13 minutes of play, six on 16 shots (before being pulled) and the first two coming off the Red Wings' first two shots of the game, Roy experienced the biggest meltdown since Dorothy threw water on the Wicked Witch of the West. His performance was worse than Neil Diamond in the Jazz Singer. His execution was on a par with the Buffalo Bills when Dallas rolled up 52 points against them in the Super Bowl (repeat after me six times: fumble, Dallas recovers, touchdown). He took the Avs out of contention so fast one could still hear the last words of the national anthem bouncing back from the last row of seats as the scoreboard showed 2-0. "It wasn't always pretty," said a subdued but not humbled Roy. "We did our best. Unfortunately for us we lost the series. I don't think we necessarily lost tonight. It was the fourth loss, being unable to win more than one game at home was basically the difference in the series. I thought the guys worked hard in Detroit, and before tonight we won two of three games. We should have played better in our own rink." Right, and the FBI left no stone unturned in the days leading up to Sept. 11. Roy's refusal to truthfully address his own play is understandable to a degree. Still, it's almost impossible to comprehend the consequences of it. The obvious result is that the Red Wings, who were designed and built for this moment via a near $70 million payroll, defeated the Avalanche, four games to three and will move on to host Carolina in the Stanley Cup finals beginning June 4. Everything else regarding Roy, his future in Colorado and the direction the Avs might take from this point forward will be open to unrelenting interpretation, conjecture and speculation. The Wings meanwhile can pretty much call in the fellow who measures fingers for Stanley Cup rings. "We haven't even thought about that," said Bowman. "The guys might have watched some of their games (figure all of them), but we weren't thinking about Carolina." Why would they? The Avs were defending champions. Everyone in hockey felt this was the team to beat. It would make great copy, especially here, to argue that the Red Wings were so dominant that the Avs had no choice. It would also be wrong. You could argue that Tomas Holmstrom's re-direction of a shot by Steve Duchesne at the 1:57 mark of the first period was an unstoppable goal, but that's it. The next one, an unremarkable shot from the far boards and a tough angle by Sergei Fedorov may have tipped off the shaft of the stick of defenseman Rob Blake, but not so much as to truly change direction. Instead, it just soared past Roy on the short side. After that, Luc Robitaille put one between Roy's legs when the goalie needed only to stand firm with his pads together. After that, Holmstrom scored again, sweeping a rebound the size of Pike's Peak past Roy for a 4-0 lead at 12:51. By then the rest of the Avs were playing like a team that needed to be wrapped in silver blankets and checked for shock. Hull blew a shot past Roy while standing unchecked in the slot at 4:41 of the second. By the time Fredrik Olausson, the defenseman who scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 3, whipped a sixth puck past Roy, the only thing left to decide was when Colorado coach Bob Hartley would yank Roy's chain. It turned out to be immediately, with Hartley going to backup David Aebischer with 13:32 left in the second period and any hope of victory completely out of reach. A match-up that was supposed to have snap, crackle and pop merely fizzled. "He (Roy) didn't want to come out," said Hartley of his goaltender. "I asked him two times. We all know what a competitor he is, but after six goals I took the decision (upon myself). At one point I have a decision to make to protect my goaltender and to give him a break. "Patrick got beat on the first two goals," Hartley added. "They were tips, like two deflections. It's tough to start a game on two deflections and then we had some bad decisions in our zone. ... A tough night for all of us." In the end, you could argue that Detroit won this series with a Game 6 triumph in Colorado. Few teams ever lose Game 6 at home and come back to win a clincher on the road. However, that just put more of the onus on Roy. The Avs, who had a limited offense but had made the most of it throughout the series, desperately needed their goaltender to make a game of it. They didn't get it especially in the early going when they Avs knew the Wings would be feeding off the emotion of the moment and the home crowd and looking desperately for the first goal of the game. "I'm six and one at home, but it's tough to win on the road for Game 7 when you're playing against a very good team like Detroit," Roy said. "And they deserve a lot of credit for their performance tonight. They came out gritty." "They scored right at the start of the game and that was one thing we didn't want to see" Hartley said. "They generated momentum and we ran out of gas. I think the seven games (an NHL record third straight seven-game series) took its toll." Conversely, the Red Wings are on the freeway to loving the Stanley Cup. This is a major triumph for the Wings, Bowman and especially Dominik Hasek. The imported goalie of choice has now posted five shutouts this postseason and has shut out the Avs in two straight outings as he goes in search of his first Stanley Cup. Though Carolina's Arturs Irbe is playing well, Hasek is clearly the dominant goaltender in the playoffs and playing behind the best team. "It's a great feeling (to win), but I don't want to think too much about it," Hasek said. "All I want to do now is get focused and get ready for the next game. When you get down to it, we still have to win four more games." With Roy and the Avalanche out of the way, there's little reason to believe that they won't. After all, if the NHL's money goalie can get taken apart like a dime-store piggy bank in the biggest game of the season, imagine what the Hurricanes must think. Jim Kelley can be reached at his e-mail address: jkelley@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Red Wings, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Dominik Hasek, Tomas Holmstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake

More Stories From Jim Kelley

Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt