Before I get into any of my pre-series buffoonery, the YouTube Gods demand that I embed the two jaw dropping saves of that epic 4 OT game:
OK, now that I've got that out of my system, lemme do my best to breakdown the Stars-Wings series. Since there's an agonizingly long break (Thursday? RAAUGH I can't wait that long!!!) between games, I figure I might as well breakdown the bejesus out of this series. So I'll chop it up into a few digestible chunks, starting with the netminders:
Marty Turco vs. Chris Osgood/the rotting corpse of Dominik Hasek
If this were just NHL '08 (why can't everything in life be NHL '08, honestly?) then it would be an easy call to choose Marty Turco. And although Turco has had his catcallers and doubters when it comes to big game performances, few goalies in the history of the NHL have received more semi-unfair abuse than Chris Osgood.
Note: I know that Osgood let up an infamous goal back in the mid-90s, one of those career-defining gaffes. But I cannot remember what team it was against and YouTube seems to only have positive Osgood clips. But then I realized that Osgood would live on in YouTube immortality for the Roy fight, not that gaffe:
*Sigh* Simpler times. Scott Burnside did a solid little breakdown of the series on ESPN:
"Osgood leads the league with a 1.52 goals-against average and a third-best .937 save percentage. Turco has a 1.73 GAA and .929 save percentage."But there are some disturbing statistics that Burnside overlooked, and they paint an interesting picture that makes you wonder if the Red Wings are in Turco's head. Stars fans might want to burn their eyes or at least look away from the screen at these disturbing statistics:
"The former University of Michigan star is 2-10-5 lifetime against the Red Wings, which includes an 0-7-2 record in Detroit, where he has posted a 3.38 goals-against average and awful .882 save percentage."
Yikes. Still, there's no doubt that Turco is on Old Man Momentum's speed dial this year. Breaking the Stars' single playoff game record with 61 saves is the icing on his playoff redemption sundae.
Check out Osgood's scouting report (which includes an uncalled for potshot "has always had trouble with long shots") and see his expansive playoff experience. And you never know when the man with the Slinky Spine might come back from the dead again.
It's difficult to hate Osgood, especially considering the abuse he's faced over the years, but Turco has to be the pick as the top goalie in this series. Turco's world-class ability to play the puck gives a lot of teams fits and it might just be a skill that grants the Stars an occasional reprieve from the Red Wings collective hockey IQ.
It also doesn't hurt that he's had two tough series to really get his swagger back, while the Wings absolutely annihilated an Avalanche team that, let's face it, probably didn't deserve to be in the second round. Sometimes an easy series can be poison for a great team's rhythm.
There's basically two ways this goalie matchup can go: either both guys will have zero margin of error (good) or Turco will have to conjure the ghost of 2003 J.S. Giguere simply to keep the Stars from getting destroyed (bad). If it's more of the coin-flip-it's-anybody's-game variety, the Stars just might have a chance to make a few octopus-chucking hands clammy.
But this is the scariest, smartest Red Wings team since well before the lockout.
Goaltending Advantage: Stars.