There it is, Hockeytown. 22 straight playoff appearances for the Detroit Red Wings. I never doubted them. Okay, so I doubted them. But only when they appeared to doubt themselves. This team that we’ve seen the last four games? They’re capable of breaking some hearts in the playoffs.
More after the jump:
This will be less a recap of the game and more an ode to the guys that got us here.
Early in the year when the feces were hitting the oscillator, some wondered if Hank was the wrong choice for captain. The last four games I would say every player on the team has worked hard and contributed, but none more than Henrik Zetterberg. Watch him carry the puck in traffic with a defenseman on his back, taking slashes, being held, yet he never loses the puck. That takes skill, but it takes even more heart and determination to win. He’s been an inspirational leader. To hell with speeches and clichés. Hank didn’t pull this team into the playoffs, he pushed them in.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard has been the team’s MVP. Once Detroit was up 2-0, we all knew it was over. No way Howard was going to get beat three times. Turns out he wouldn’t get beat once. This is the best I’ve ever seen him play. People say—hell, even I say that Howard has trouble being better than the guy at the other end of the ice. Not this year. He is consistently the #1 star, even if I don’t give it to him for the sake of spreading the love around.
Mule turned it on when he had to. The Franzen that we have seen this last week is the Franzen I expect all year. Not the numbers, but the effort. You can’t say he’s been lazy and he’s getting points now as a result. This is why he drives us nuts, but it’s also why we love the ugly SOB on days like this.
Danny DeKeyser is steady and makes great passes out of the zone. I don’t know if the rest of our blueline freaked out when they realized a guy fresh out of college was better than them or what, but he made everyone else better. Not saying Smith and Quincey aren’t terrible at times, but they have been better.
Pavel Datsyuk. What is there to say? The man was great all year. The rest of the team just now caught up to him.
The kid line. While the adults were sorting out their offensive problems, the third line kept working and gelling into an impressive unit. They’re not finishing yet, but they will. Too much talent and effort for them not to.
I know I’ll leave someone out, so use the comment section to set me straight.
22 straight playoff appearances. Awesome. We’re on our way, Anaheim. Nervous?
Second half of the year I found myself just hoping to continue the streak. After watching the play the last 4 games my expectations have risen drastically.
I'll fess up that at the beginning of the week, I thought they would need help. If they really needed seven points, I thought, they were toast. They did need seven, and got eight in the last six days of the season, with 15 goals for and three against, and not a single nervy finish. Their best players were their best players, as the saying goes, but a lot of the fringe guys were terrific, too. Tootoo, to mention one, scored one GWG and had a great assist on another.
Awesome. I still doubt the non-player leadership, but as I said all season, this team has the talent to be a winner no matter who runs the organ-i-zation or the bench. Effort is there, and Red Wings hockey is back. We've accomplished Kenny's goal for the team, so now let's break some hearts. An 8-seed did it last year, so it only seems fair turnabout for a 7-seed to do it this year. LGRW!!!
@Old Fat Bald Guy 5 GA in the last 5 games with two shutouts. Jimmy was huge down the stretch. You're right there about the fringe guys too. I was glad to see Eaves getting some PP time last night as well as some promotion time during even strength. He's a great, all-around player, and 17+22 = Goal the last couple games.
@Jay Argentina Two guys I didn't trust at all at the beginning of this season whom I trust completely now -- Kindl, whom everybody talks about, and Emmerton, whom nobody talks about.
@Old Fat Bald Guy I agree completely. Emmerton has really stepped up his PK play. Kindl suddenly became the player that only the origination thought is.