- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The Detroit Red Wings choose to remain confident.
The Red Wings players, if nobody else, are convinced their talent and experience will help them battle back from a 2-0 series deficit against the surprising Vancouver Canucks.
"Now that they've won the first two games in our rink and they're coming home, a lot of people have the series over," Detroit winger Brendan Shanahan said. "That's OK, we just stick with what we have here in this dressing room. We believe in the group we have and the character of the team and we still feel the series has a lot of hockey left in it."
And the Canucks are certainly not expecting to breeze through to the next round. They are geared up for a battle in Game 3 tonight.
After finishing 22 points behind the Wings and making the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season, the Canucks started the postseason with little pressure to win. Before this series, Vancouver hadn't won a playoff game in six seasons and was winless at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena since 1997.
After ending both streaks over the last four days, the Canucks returned to expectations they would advance to the second round for the first time since 1995.
Canucks center Andrew Cassels isn't sure.
"I think they're still expected to win this series," said Cassels, who ended a nine-year playoff absence with a goal in each of the first two games. "They've got a lot of Hall of Famers over there, a lot of great players and I'm sure they're looking at it like they're going to win the series still."
To do that, the Wings must find a way to end their own nine-game winless streak and win four of the next five contests against a Canucks team that hasn't lost in 11 games.
Detroit did finish the regular season with the NHL's best road record, but much like their overall record, it won't mean a thing if they don't get better goaltending from six-time Vezina Trophy winner and two-time league MVP Dominik Hasek.
Through two games Hasek has given up eight goals on 45 shots and been outplayed by Canucks goaltender Dan Cloutier, who entered the series without a playoff win in his five-year NHL career.
"I don't want to comment too much on my performance," Hasek said. "I would feel sad the way I play even if some of the goals were fluky goals, deflections from my own teammates, but it's part of the game. I don't want to make any excuses. If I give up four goals in the game it is almost impossible to win."
Detroit entered the playoffs stocked with future Hall of Fame players and a coach with eight Stanley Cups. After locking up the NHL's best record on March 23 and finishing with 116 points, the Red Wings were widely regarded as favorites to win it all.
Detroit winger Brett Hull wasn't listening to predictions then and he isn't listening to the nay-sayers now.
"I don't think it's any different than listening to the people that said we were the best team and we were going to walk through everybody," Hull said. "We knew that wasn't the case. No more do we believe the people who pat us and raise us up than we do the people that try to tear us down."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide