According to the rules, there is no skills competition in the post-season. Yet for the Red Wings in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Boston Bruins, a skills competition broke out with three minutes to play in the third period.
Maybe you’ll see a better stick move at center ice than what you saw with Pavel Datsyuk tonight, which resulted in the only goal of a 1-0 Red Wings victory.
Maybe you’ll see a better one, yes sir. Maybe you’ll see a hamster driving a car and pork chops fall from the sky, too.
Datsyuk’s ridiculous behind-the-back drag of the puck to himself at center ice, sliding the disc between his own legs, led to a wrist shot that beat Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask from just beyond the face-off circle. The mind-numbing play came with 3:01 left in the third period and the Red Wings lead the series, 1-0.
Even Datsyuk had never made a move like he did tonight, that I ever recall. It would be inconceivable to think that we’d have seen it before and forgotten it.
It’s already the play of the 2014 playoffs. Datsyuk sewed it up. We’re one game into round one and you won’t see a better hockey play between now and June.
It was as if Datsyuk, skating full bore through the neutral zone, suddenly remembered that he didn’t have the puck. So he did something about it.
I swear Datsyuk’s stick grew about six inches in length as he reached behind him and used the stick’s blade to scoop the puck and slide it between his legs in time for him to stick handle into the Boston zone. Then it was a matter of allowing traffic to clear as no. 13 drifted to his left, ever patient, and wristed a shot that eluded the masterful goalie Rask, who may have been surprised that Datsyuk had the puck to begin with.
Next came the longest three minutes of the Red Wings season thus far.
Boston pulled Rask with about 1:20 left, but never got a serious scoring chance.
The Bruins’ best chance at a goal occurred moments before Datsyuk’s brilliance, when a deflection at the goal mouth was rejected by Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.
Lost in the shadow of Datsyuk’s magical play was the fact that the Red Wings played the perfect road game for a no. 8 playoff seed in Game 1. They were hard on the puck, didn’t commit many turnovers and didn’t have to kill too many penalties.
It is just one game of what promises to be a six or seven-game series. And Boston is likely going to win a game in Detroit. But as far as giving credence to the notion that the Red Wings will be, as coach Mike Babcock said this week, a “tough out,” this game did that.
When you see what Datsyuk did tonight, it is even more amazing that the Red Wings managed to slip into the playoffs minus Datsyuk since the Olympic break, essentially.
Advantage, Detroit. Game 2 is Sunday.
BOTTOM LINE: Whether the Red Wings survive this series or not, Datsyuk provided the fans with an unforgettable playoff moment.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: This was no flukey victory, despite the fact that it took a super-human play to score the winning goal. Had the Red Wings lost in overtime it would have been crushing. But now, the Bruins have to bring their A-Game on Sunday. The Red Wings showed that they are no. 8 seed in name only. The almost nightly grind to make the playoffs since the Olympics paid off in a big way in Game 1, as the Red Wings brought the same urgency that carried over from the final quarter of the regular season.