The Red Wings
The story of Johan Franzen is unlike any I can remember. In this town. Or anywhere else.
He not only has 11 goals in 10 playoffs games - and scored nine in the Red Wings’ Western Conference semifinal playoff sweep of Colorado - but Franzen has scored 26 goals in this last 26 games dating back to the regular season.
That’s the stuff of Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Rocket Richard, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull - the NHL’s 50 goals in 50 games club.
In his first 149 NHL games entering this season, Franzen had just 22 goals. And he had just 22 goals - in 125 games - from the start of last season through the first 56 games of this season. Then he, suddenly, turned into the second coming of Phil Esposito in front of the net.
He emergence has been stunning. And he just keeps going - with a hat trick during the Red Wings series clincher Thursday.
The Red Wings needed something different in these playoffs. A unexpected star emerging is about as good as anything that could’ve happened. It’s not a young star, though. Franzen is 28, the age when most NHLers have already established what type of player they are going to be.
With Franzen, it was to be a tough, scrappy player, one who was going to win more than his share of battles for the puck because of his size and strength. Finesse players don’t carry nicknames like "The Mule."
But it is turning out Franzen has special hands. Few players, in close, can do what he does with his backhand, for example.
If the playoffs ended right now, how could Franzen not win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP?
Random Red Wings Thoughts
- As good as the Red Wings were in Colorado series, I thought the Avalanche rolled over like dogs and died. They were awful. Lets put it this way, the rivalry wasn’t really renewed. It was strictly a one-way street.
- Finally, a Mikael Samuelsson sighting on Thursday.
- Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were brilliant as ever Thursday. People outside Detroit don’t know, but they are the best forward tandem in the NHL. Yes, better than Malkin and Crosby.
- The Red Wings shouldn’t want too much rest. Ideally, Dallas would win their series with San Jose in six games. That way the Red Wings will be rested, but not rusty for the Western Conference finals. It could work in reverse for the Wings if Dallas or San Jose were to win in seven games, and still have that edge going into the Western Conference finals while the Red Wings might lose there edge. It’d be different if the Red Wings needed to recover from several injuries, but they don’t.
This turning the switch on and off may be getting annoying, but, to use a basketball term, no harm, no foul for the Pistons during the opening round.
Ultimately, they weren’t threatened that much by the 76ers. When the Pistons decided to turn it on at halftime of Game 4, the series essentially ended.
The emotion the Pistons were lacking at the start of this series has returned. They don’t have an answer for Dwight Howard in the next series against Orlando, but nobody, honestly, does.
And the Pistons can’t feel too bad winning the series vs. the 76ers in six games because the Celtics have also lost a couple to the Hawks.
Still seems like a Celtics-Pistons match in the Eastern Conference finals is inevitable, doesn’t it.
Random Pistons Thoughts
- It’s important that Richard Hamilton got untracked Thursday. The Pistons need more consistent scoring from Hamilton than he has delivered the last two years during the playoffs.
- I still see San Antonio out of the Western Conference as the team to beat.
- Good thing the Pistons didn’t trade Tayshaun Prince, that’s for sure. Joe Dumars is too smart to do anything that rash, isn’t he? Or even consider it. Prince has been the Pistons playoff MVP by wide margin so far.
- Moving Jason Maxiel into the starting lineup was the perfect move at the perfect time by Flip Saunders.
- It took Chauncey Billups awhile, but he finally did get the best of Philly point guard Andre Miller. Count me among those who wasn’t sure that would happen.
I’m still not sold on the Tigers’ starting pitching, or even their bullpen, which seems almost too good to be true.
But the best sign is that they are starting to come back in games. They were down 2-0 and 3-0 Wednesday and Thursday and rallied to beat the Yankees.
To me, that’s the sign of a confident team that always believes it is in the game. It’s amazing how quickly the Tigers have recovered from their 2-10 start. They are just a game below .500 and only 1 1-2 games out of first place in the American League Central.
Random Tiger Thoughts
- It should be noted that Miguel Cabrera ranks third in the American League in RBI with 22 and fourth in home runs with six. He is on pace to hit 34 home runs drive in 123 runs this season. He is hitting .279. He is starting to show what a great hitter he truly is.
- After looking good at third base on Wednesday, Carlos Guillen took a step back on Thursday.
- I find it odd that so many Tiger fans seen to clamoring for Gary Sheffield’s demise so Guillen can go to DH and Brandon Inge can become the everyday third baseman. I say be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.
- The most recent starts by Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson have been encouraging.