- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 1, 2002

DETROIT He had been as dependable as any professional athlete ever has been. He had earned a reputation as the greatest money goalies of all time, the one man you want between the pipes when you really, really need a victory.

All of which made last night's blowup by Patrick Roy all the more mind-boggling. He allowed goals on the first two Detroit shots and on four of the first eight as the Red Wings blew past Colorado 7-0 and rode into the Stanley Cup finals.

Detroit will play host to Carolina in Game1 of the best-of-7 series Tuesday night in Joe Louis Arena the Red Wings' first appearance in the finals since 1998 when they defeated Washington in four straight. It is the first time the Carolina franchise has reached the championship round.

In this Game7 of a great conference championship series, the story was Roy, who allowed six goals on 16 shots before being benched 6:28 into the second period. It was the first time in Roy's lengthy career he had been yanked in a game of this magnitude. Many had expected the banged-up Avalanche to advance to the finals simply because of Roy and his ability to rise to the occasion time after time.

Colorado coach Bob Hartley said after the game that he asked Roy twice if he wanted to be removed from the game and both times the goalie said no. The third time the coach didn't give the goalie an option, he wanted to protect him from unnecessary damage.

"All of you know Patrick and know what kind of competitor he is," said Hartley. "He wanted to stay in there but after six goals, I felt I had a responsibility to protect my goalie, especially after the season he gave us. I think he had seen enough tonight."

Last night's dismal performance reminded many of Roy's last game with the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 2, 1995, when he was obviously having a bad night at home but was not relieved until he had been thoroughly embarrassed, allowing nine goals on 26 shots in an eventual 11-1 loss to Detroit. Finally taken out, Roy skated to the bench and told team officials on the spot that he had played his last game for the Canadiens.

Four days later, he was traded to Colorado.

"It's good to see he's human again," Detroit coach Scotty Bowman said of Roy. "He's had a great career, he's not finished yet. We once scored [nine] on him in Montreal and I knew the next day after they were going to trade him, I said, 'This could hurt us in the Western Conference.' It's hurt us until now, until we got a hold of [Dominik Hasek]. It's not payback time."

Roy's latest slide actually started in Game6 in Denver on Wednesday night, a 2-0 Detroit victory that allowed the Red Wings to tie the series at 3-3. The first Detroit goal was a disaster as Roy thought he had made a save and started to hold his glove up to show the officials he had the puck and possibly embarrass the Wings. But Detroit's Brendan Shanahan saw that the goalie in fact did not have the puck, that it had landed behind Roy. Shanahan poked it into the net, and the Wings went on a scoring binge that only time shut down.

Last night's stunning development opened the door for Dominik Hasek to complete his triple crown. The Detroit goalie has won an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship with his native Czech Republic but he never won a Stanley Cup in his years with Chicago and Buffalo. This is his first season with Detroit, a team he elected to join for just this opportunity.

Hasek's shutout last night was his fifth of the playoffs this spring, bettering the league record by one. He had been tied with 12 others.

It is also a cruel way for the playoffs to end for Colorado's Peter Forsberg, who is the leading postseason scorer this spring with nine goals and 27 points. Forsberg missed the entire season after surgery last May to remove his spleen; he had four surgical procedures on his feet after the spleen operation before beginning rehabilitation in January.

Tomas Holmstrom scored on the first Detroit shot less than two minutes into the game, a redirect up and over Roy's glove. Less than 90 seconds later, Sergei Fedorov sliced a shot in off Roy's stick on the Wings' second shot. At 10:25, Luc Robitaille ripped one through Roy's legs, just the fifth Detroit attempt, and coach Bob Hartley called time. It was already too late, even for the goalie who last season fell behind New Jersey 3-2 in the finals but rallied the Avalanche to their second Cup since moving from Quebec City.

When Detroit's Fredrik Olausson scored on a power play drive 6:28 into the second, Hartley had seen enough. He surely cannot be faulted for leaving the goalie in too long, not a thoroughbred like Roy who has engineered comebacks before.

What this does is set up a final between an aging team that was put together for just this purpose, Detroit, and Carolina, an upstart bunch of "mongrels," in the words of coach Paul Maurice who are located in a part of the United States that a Canadian cable television firm had trouble locating on a map.

But nobody is laughing at the Hurricanes or taking them lightly any more, even though they represent the lowly Southeast Division. Carolina has given true meaning to the word and term "team," with 15 players contributing goals although no individual has more than six. The Hurricanes have scored 40 goals, low among the four conference finalists, but have allowed just 29 nearly a dozen less than the Red Wings.

Further, goalie Arturs Irbe has a goals-against average of 1.41 and a saves percentage of .947, the best of all goalies who were among the final four.

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