RALEIGH, N.C. -- Hockey fans hoping to see the Detroit Red Wings put on an all-star scoring performance in the Stanley Cup finals have been sorely disappointed.
A 7-0 win over the defending champion Colorado Avalanche in the deciding game of the Western Conference finals displayed Detroit's skill, finesse and scoring power from a collection of future Hall of Famers. Chasing goaltender Patrick Roy off the ice in embarrassment whetted the audience's appetite for scoring in the Cup finals.
Hockey's biggest stage has featured a defensive test of wills, not offensive prowess.
The Red Wings have managed a combined eight goals in the first three games of the best-of-seven series against the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring no more than three in any game - including Saturday night's 3-2 victory in triple overtime for a 2-1 series lead. The last time a team failed to score at least four goals in one of the first three games and won the Cup was in 1989, when Calgary beat Montreal.
Carolina has been criticized for its trapping style in the neutral zone, an approach similar to that used by New Jersey in the mid-1990s. The Devils also were blasted by the hockey establishment for using what was called a boring style, until they used it to win Stanley Cups in 1995 and 2000.
Detroit's Brendan Shanahan was among the stars shut out in the first three games of this series, which resumed Monday night with Game 4. Also on that list were Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille of Detroit, and Sami Kapanen of the Hurricanes.
"Carolina plays a very disciplined style and they protect their net with a lot of players, blocking shots," Shanahan said. "It's tough getting pucks through. We haven't really put them in a position in the series where they've really had to open it up at all. It's one of those series where you just know you're not going to get a lot of chances."
Shanahan admitted it's difficult being patient.
"What they do is try to frustrate offensive players into after a while not getting chances, and when that happens offensive players will sometimes take shortcuts to get those chances," he said. "That's when they pounce on you and take advantage of your mistakes."
But Yzerman, Shanahan, Brett Hull and Sergei Fedorov aren't headed to the Hall of Fame because they're one-dimensional players. They, too, can play defense and positional hockey when necessary.
So far, it has been necessary, as the Red Wings have had to adjust to Carolina's style - not the other way around.
"We don't think about blowing teams out," Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom said. "If we win by one goal and we do it in four wins I don't care. If it happens it's just a plus.
"In the first game we weren't prepared for how they played. We were coughing up pucks in the neutral zone a little too much and they were feeding off of that. We have now changed the style we played in the Colorado series. That's the fun part, too, you meet different teams that have different shapes."
So far, the Red Wings aren't concerned that their stake as possibly the greatest team ever assembled could be in jeopardy with a few more low-scoring games.
"We don't get wins for style points," Darren McCarty said.
A grinder on a star-studded roster, McCarty defended the style of play so far.
"It's definitely good hockey," he said. "It's physical, there have been some great scoring chances and really good goaltending."
And tons of defense.
"It's the two best teams meeting in the finals," Holmstrom said. "It's supposed to be tight."
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