Originally created 05/06/02

A 2-0 series lead over Blues is no cause for celebration in Detroit



ST. LOUIS -- If anyone knows the fragility of a two-game lead, it's the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings began the postseason by dropping a pair to the Vancouver Canucks at home before winning the next four. So their 2-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues heading into Game 3 of their second-round Western Conference series Tuesday night is a good start and nothing more.

"It doesn't mean anything," forward Kris Draper said. "Obviously, we proved that this year."

Last year's first round was another case in point. Detroit won the first two games in the first round at home against the Los Angeles Kings, and then lost four straight.

After taking an early 3-0 lead in Game 2 against the Blues on Sunday - and then hanging on for a 3-2 victory - the Red Wings are expecting the best St. Louis has to offer in Game 3.

"We know they're going to come out with a lot of energy, and we'll have to match it," forward Brendan Shanahan said. "We don't have any sort of cushion or comfort zone. We're not treating it that way."

Both teams took a breather on Sunday. The Red Wings had an optional skate and the only regulars participating were goalie Dominik Hasek, Mathieu Dandenault, Jiri Fischer and Boyd Devereaux - and Hasek left the ice about halfway through the workout.

The Blues did not practice.

Captain Steve Yzerman said it's important the Red Wings keep up the pressure in Game 3.

"Being up 2-0 or down two, the next game is really a crucial one in determining which way the series goes," Yzerman said. "It will be a must-win game and St. Louis will bring that approach.

"So we really have to make sure we're ready to go."

The Blues' pair of victories over the Red Wings in a season-ending home-and-home series, with one of the games in overtime, served as a springboard to the playoffs. But the Red Wings have seized momentum in Games 1 and 2, scoring on their second shot in the first game and their first shot in the second game.

Goalie Brent Johnson misplayed the puck behind the net to hand the Red Wings the lead in Game 2.

"I thought we took the play to them, especially in the third," Blues forward Jamal Mayers said. "It will be important for us to build on that."

But they're tired of playing catch-up.

"We just need to get off to a better start and get that lead on them at home," said defenseman Chris Pronger, the Blues' captain.

The Blues are getting plenty of chances, but have been stifled by Hasek, who made 35 saves in Game 2.

"That's why we got him," Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios said. "He's one of the best goalies over the past 10 years. Now you know why."

Hasek knows he's got to keep it up, too.

"I never feel like I'm on top because you never know what's going to happen next," Hasek said. "We know they will go even harder at home.

"They will forecheck harder and they will run even more traffic in front of the net in their home building."