Thoughts on Game 8 (6-5 shootout win in Chicago)
-- Johan Franzen is out for a month because of a weird collision with Brent Sopel. Usually a knee-on-knee is a hit made when a puck-carrier dodges a defender. Sopel was just heading to the bench from the far side of the neutral zone. Franzen was cherry picking near the red line as his teammates gathered the puck in the defensive zone.
Someone was wrong on this play. Franzen wouldn't talk much after the game. He limped out of the locker room, but even then I'm too slow to catch him. Franzen was polite and did say that he'd have to wait for today's tests before he knew what his status was.
My first thought is that Sopel didn't see Franzen and he caused the hit. Franzen was following the puck, which wasn't in Sopel's direction. Sopel was looking right at the bench with Franzen in front of him. I haven't watched the tape yet, but it appeared live that Sopel was on a collision course and Franzen saw him at the last second and swerved with just their legs hitting.
Franzen was in the flow of the game. Sopel was darting horizontally across the ice, an out-of-the-ordinary path.
-- Last night was the largest regular-season home crowd in Blackhawks' history. And that building had great atmosphere ... well not great like Chicago Stadium, but great for the United Center.
-- Ty Conklin looked very good in the shootout and for most of the game. His mistake came on Chicago's second goal when defenseman Aaron Johnson slipped a wrist shot through his five-hole. Both Conklin and Coach Mike Babcock called that a soft goal that gave Chicago a lift.
-- Jiri Hudler's goal that sent the game into overtime was a remarkable bit of alertness and quick hands. Mikael Samuelsson missed a wide open net and the reaction is to look for the puck to rebound towards the slot. But Hudler got his stick quickly behind the net to retrieve the puck, then quickly got the puck around the post to his backhand to slip it in.
-- Totally irrelevant, but the Red Wings' team plane had to divert from LAX last night and land in Orange County because of fog. That caused them to finally get to their team hotel at approximately 5 a.m. Pacific Time (8 a.m. Eastern). Today's an off day though.
-- Not from just this game, but this season Brett Lebda has yet to be on the ice for a Detroit even-strength goal scored. he's been on the ice for 7 even-strength goals allowed.