Here it is, the best trophy in sports is about to be handed out as we are down to the final 2 teams in the NHL. Two teams that many people had their doubts about coming into the playoffs, many who had their doubts during these playoffs. The New York Rangers are the bigger surprise here in the finals, they weren’t lighting up picks boards and hell, I had them losing in round 1. But after 7 games in round 1, trailing 3-1 to Pittsburgh and coming back to win in 7 in round 2, and beating the Canadiens in 6 in the conference finals, the Rangers are back in the final for the first time in 20 years.The Los Angeles Kings had their fair share of scoring problems coming into the playoffs, went down 3-0 to the Sharks and people turned away. But they somehow held off the Sharks for 4 straight games to become the 4th team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 deficit. They went down to the Ducks 3-2 in round 2, only to win in 7 games. They then had a rematch in the conference finals with the defending champs and blew a 3-1 series lead, only to win, you guessed it, in 7 games. Three game 7 wins, all on the road. Talk about a team of destiny. Continue Reading
The second round wrapped up Friday night with the LA Kings taking it to the Ducks, hard. As good as the first round was, the 2nd was just as good, with 3 game 7’s and a game 6 that went to overtime. We come into the Western Conference Finals with a little feeling of Deja vu. A rematch of last years Conference final and a Kings team looking for a little revenge after Patrick “showtime” Kane ended their 2013 playoff dreams.
As a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, I can open this post by gladly saying that the two teams I cannot stand in the East are now at home. Two 7 game thrillers, two road teams winning that game 7, two two-seeds in the conference finals and I’m not talking Jordin. OK I’m sorry for that terrible joke. We got to see two teams have to string together a couple of wins, stave off elimination, and win the final game on the road to keep their season going. We saw great goaltending, unlikely scorers, and water bottle facials in each series in back to back nights. Now we have the 3rd straight round with an original 6 matchup and 2 of the best goalies in the game going head to head. First, we recap… Continue Reading
After one of the most exciting first rounds in recent memory, we are left with 8 teams. The Western Conference provided us with 4 of the best first round series you could ever ask for. In the Central division, the top seeded Avalanche came up short against the division rival Wild, as teams swapped home victories until the Wild came through on the road in game 7. The series featured 4 overtime games including the eerie silence of the visiting team scoring the series winning OT goal in game 7. Not to toot my own horn too much, but in the first round preview I said “The Avalanche are one of the worst possession teams in the entire league and when it comes to postseason hockey that could kill them.” And it in fact did, as the Wild took the corsi % 5v5 close by an astounding 59.8% to 40.2%. The other Central Division series was everything we expected from the Blues vs Blackhawks, it even included a Blues collapse! The series featured 4 OT games of the 6, with the Blues winning the first 2 and the Blackhawks winning the next 4. Ryan Miller wasn’t good enough but the Blues decided not to score after the first two games for the 2nd year in a row. Continue Reading
Well, there are even more empty seats available on the Wings band-wagon after the 3-2 OT loss in game 4 on Thursday night. I can assure you that people would be scrambling to climb back on board if the Wings would have pulled off the game 4 victory. Although that is not the case as a pinball-machine-like Jarome Iginla goal sealed the game for Boston 13:32 into the overtime period. Now a demoralized Red Wings team heads back to Beantown down 3 games to 1 for a Saturday matinee contest in which I’m sure 99% of the country thinks will send the Detroit boys golfing.
BUT, before we clean off the clubs, let’s play a quick round of Uncle Bobo’s “Cheers ‘n’ Jeers” to remember how last night played out…
Henrik Zetterberg was back baby. Hank was only expected to log between 10-12 minutes of ice time, but ended up playing a stout 19:34 (including OT). Zetterberg looked better than expected, lacking some speed, but seemingly provided a much needed energy boost to the team. I’m curious to see if he will be able to provide the same spark in game 5, because we’re definitely going to need it.
Jimmy Howard got sick. Nobody expected the last-minute goalie move that had to be made when Jimmy couldn’t go, but Monster proved to be a worthy back-up and played a strong game stopping 37 of 40 shots. Tough call for game 5, eh? I’ll let the Howard-haters hate and the Monster-lovers love – no doubt about it, Gustavsson looked strong Thursday night.
Babies equal goals. Kronwall and Datsyuk each had a two point night and scored the Red Wings two goals in game 4. Their energy looked great early but seemed to fade as the game went on – games at this point of the season can take a lot out of a guy, but that’s no excuse. Fertility leads to a solid scoring touch, both on and off the ice.
Faceoff troubles. The Wings centermen have had a whale of a time trying to win faceoffs in this series. I get that Berguron is the OG of faceoffs but we have to get better at gaining possession against a team this good. Goals 1 and 3 for Boston in game 4 were a direct result of the Wings losing the draw cleanly in their own zone.
Sleeping Goose. Gustav Nyquist has been invisible in the first round of the playoffs; he hasn’t scored since April 2nd in the regular season. This was a guy who scored 28 goals in just 57 games this season. Gus needs to wake up, and also play some D while he’s at it – if his stick is on the ice and/or his head in the game then the second Boston goal by Milan Lucic doesn’t happen, and who knows how things shake out…
Stupid penalties. A Todd Bertuzzi interference call led to the powerplay that allowed Boston to score their first goal on a Torey Krug point bomb that was tipped on it’s way through. The goal was a real downer as it came with only two seconds remaining on the powerplay and gave Boston the breath of life that it needed. The Red Wings were held scoreless throughout the rest of the game and you know what else happened.
All in all, the effort was there early – the energy was there man, it was there! The Joe was rockin’ last night and the Wings looked a hell of a lot better than in game 3. We had Boston on the ropes early and we let ’em off the hook (we should be lucky this game didn’t end 5-2 in regulation with Marchand and Sweet Lou missing nets like it’s their job). Now it is going to take everything this young team has (and more) to mount what would be considered a comeback for the ages.
If you wrote the team off after game 3, then you damn sure don’t believe now. But if you’ve hung on to that glimmer of hope – that thought that maybe, just maybe we can turn this thing around, then join us here on the Winged-Wagon. Like I said, there’s plenty of empty seats (and beer) on board; everyone is already gearing up for Boston vs Montréal, but look how it sets up: steal game 5 in Boston and return home for game 6 with an opportunity to pull things back to 3-3. Then, who knows? Stranger things have happened.
“Hope is not lost until we lose 4 games.” – Hound Dog
We’ll see you Saturday, Wings fans.
Chirp me on twitter if you think I’m an idiot.
Game 4 tonight Detroit – get stoked!!
Video Credit: Official Detroit Red Wings
Chirp us on Twitter during the game @GordieHEntrance
Can you honestly tell me that song doesn’t make you dance a little bit like Carlton from Fresh Prince? We have had to wait a full, agonizing 5 days for our beloved Wings to start their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. A quest that starts with a team that has already won some hardware this season in the Presidents Trophy winning Boston Bruins. This postseason has a bit of a different feel to it from last year’s similar seed, first round prediction love fest that the national media had with Detroit. Nope, this year nearly every national writer, hockey analyst, yahoo with a pencil and paper is picking Boston to beat Detroit, and a lot of them have Boston in the finals and/or winning the whole damn thing. So the Wings are truly an underdog this year, and I’m okay with it. There is no pressure for the Wings to win this series because hell, they aren’t supposed to. Lucky for us Wings nation, the games aren’t decided by those pieces of notebook paper that media members scribble their picks on, pieces of paper that I can assure you that 90% of those mangy writers leave the scraggly fringe on. The games aren’t based on standings because if they were, the 2006 Presidents Trophy winning Red Wings would have never lost in the first round to the 8th seed Edmonton Oilers who finished 29 points behind the Wings, and the 2012 Presidents Trophy winning Canucks wouldn’t have lost to the 8th seed LA Kings. I’m not telling you to bet all your money on Detroit, I’m just telling you to not be scared. That Oilers team made the finals, the Kings team won the damn thing and 3 of the last 5 Presidents Trophy winners have lost in the first round. There is hope.
There is no denying that Boston is the better team. They have a big, physical lineup with guys who can both bang bodies and score goals. They have a wooly mammoth on defense who never, ever cracks a smile; and they have arguably the best goalie in the whole NHL. Boston is the better team with the better pieces and the better build. Sometimes, just sometimes, a team comes along that isn’t as good as you, not as talented, not as battle tested, that matches up with you so well that it is hard to explain. The Red Wings have been where the Bruins are and sometimes the weight of expectations being a Cup favorite weighs down the favored team while the team null of expectations flies carelessly around the ice because what’s the worst they can do, lose a series everyone expects them to lose? The feeling I’m getting from Wings fans isn’t the usual cockiness of “we are going to win the Cup” but more of a quiet, calm confidence heading into the series. I haven’t heard anyone who is scared of the Bruins. For those of you who are, I’m not telling you to believe the Wings are going to win the Cup, all I’m telling you is to not be scared. Leave that to Boston fans.
I could sit here and ramble off stats to help you try to believe, but I already did that in the East preview. The Wings have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If they lose, sure it will be a bummer, but with this lineup and these injuries, I bet you were with everyone else thinking this team was going to miss the playoffs. If they win, then they just eliminated the best team in the league.
The best part about the start of a playoff series is the fact that you have the chance to win it all. Take your lucky jersey, hat, t-shirt, whatever it is, put it on and enjoy the ride this team takes you on, whether it be 4 games or 16 wins. Is this the Wings year to win it all? Could be.