(Detroit) -- Whether a Red Wing had scored 4 goals in a playoff game in my lifetime prior to Johan Franzen last night here in Detroit’s 7-1 rout of the Sharks, might, I suspect, be subject to Judicial Review. I was, and I will thank her for this the day after tomorrow, in my mother's womb when Ted Lindsay last did it in April, 1955.
These facts, at least, require no review, judicial or otherwise: Detroit is still alive in the series against the Sharks, down three games to one (much better than being down four games to none, no?) and Franzen had the best individual performance—4 goals and 2 assists for 6 points—in the 58-year, 574-game playoff history of the Detroit franchise.
Franzen tied the team record for goals in a playoff game (also held by Carl Liscombe who did it ten years before Lindsay) and set a new Red Wings record for points in a playoff game. Nobody, not Howe, not Yzerman, not anybody you can name, had ever scored six points in a playoff game for the Wings prior to last night.
The kicker was that for half an hour or so, it appeared that Franzen had tied the single-game goal-scoring record in an amazing 5:36 span in the first period.
The Red Wings team record for fastest four goals in a playoff game is 4:46. To give you an idea of how long that record has stood, consider that Howe scored 2 of those goals. Not Gordie, Syd.
Franzen—originally credited with each of Detroit’s first four goals—appeared to have come to within under a minute of that “fastest 4 goals” record all by himself. However, upon further review (I’m beginning to develop a strong distaste for that term, “further review” and everything it stands for) it was ascertained that Detroit’s first goal at 5:40 of the opening period belonged not to Franzen who fired the puck, but rather to linemate Todd Bertuzzi, who had been nicked by it on its way to the back of the San Jose net. So Franzen had to settle for scoring not four goals in a row (What would you call that anyway, “a Natural Quad”?) but rather for scoring three in a row which already has a name: A Natural Hat Trick. The assist Franzen got on the Bertuzzi goal did, in the end, enable him set a Detroit playoff record for points in a single period with four.
All of this had happened by the 11:16 mark of the first and Detroit led 4-0 and the Joe Louis Arena crowd was hysterical. You may recall we told you in this space recently (actually, it was after the Sharks took a 3-0 series lead by winning each of the first three games by identical scores of 4-3) that Detroit is an appalling 17-142 (.107) all-time in the playoffs when they allow four or more goals to be scored against them. Well, pass the Post-Season Media Guide. Here’s the same question from the other direction: What’s the Wings record when they score four or more goals against their opponent? Answer: a mind-blowing 162-18 (.900).
By the time the Wings made it 6-0—Valtteri Filppula scored late in the first on the 9th and final shot Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov would face and Brian Rafalski tallied early in the second on the 4th shot against his back-up Thomas Greiss (Franzen assisted on the goal by Rafalski, natch)—more research was called for. It turns out that when Detroit scores 6 goals or more in a playoff game, Detroit wins. They are now 44-0 (1.000) when they do so.
Franzen capped off his night by scoring the final goal of the evening, his 6th goal of the playoffs and his team record-setting 6th point of the game, in the 3rd period. San Jose got their only goal on a 5-3 power play in the final minute of the second period with Joe Thornton firing the puck past Jimmy Howard who stopped the other 28 shots he faced.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock juggled his lines for Game 4, dropping Franzen to the second line with Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg, moving Filppula up to the first line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom. It looked bad early when, on the very first line change of the night, Filppula failed to come off with his linemates and Zetterberg came on with his and the Wings were called for Too Many Men on the Ice. It was the 23rd power play chance for San Jose in the series, compared to 11 for Detroit. The Wings killed it off, though and a couple of minutes later the Sharks Dwight Helminen was whistled for tripping. While he was off, Franzen Bertuzzi scored and Franzen and the Wings were on their way.
I asked Babcock “to evaluate the efficacy of the line changes” and got a most disappointing response. “You’d have to switch ‘em back and play the game over,” he said. It was my punishment, I thought, for using the word “efficacy” during a presser at a hockey game. I’ll try to tone it down for the next game. If there is one, of course. For that to happen, for Detroit to play here at home again this season, they will have to win Saturday night in San Jose to force a Game 6 Monday.