This cartoon has absolutely nothing to do with the following story. I just threw it in because it involves the Detroit Red Wings, which happens to be today’s subject, and it’s mostly about the Habs, which is always a good thing.
During any regular season, I pay very little attention to teams in the NHL other than the Canadiens. If you came to my house, rarely, if ever, would a game not involving Montreal be on. And so there are some teams I know only a little about, mainly because of what I read in newspapers or hear Mike Milbury or Glenn Healy babble on about.
I’ve always been quite aware of the Detroit Red Wings, though, because they boast the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, the inimitable Pavel Datsyuk, and a host of players named Franzen, Holmstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski etc. Although in the back of my mind, this team had seen better days, with too many guys ready for the old folks home.
But it was one period of the Wings and Phoenix Coyotes in the opening round, on one particular power play, that Detroit played like everyone was 25 years old and ready for the Hall of Fame, and which convinced me that the Wings were still a powerhouse.
That night, Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski controlled play on the blueline in a way which is rarely seen. They tossed the puck back and forth, players moved around with the precision of the 1972 Soviet squad, and Pavel Datsyuk, who is as brilliant as they come and in my book the best Russian in the league, was a magical demon in enemy territory.
It seemed men against boys, and after that I thought there was no way Detroit would be stopped in the west.
It would be the Habs and Wings in the final, and Montreal better not take too many penalties.
I went to work the next morning and mentioned to a deckhand, a diehard Canucks fan, that I didn’t believe Vancouver would win the west because Detroit looks just too good. That power play, I said, was as dangerous as can be. And Datsyuk…….
They won’t get by San Jose, said the deckhand, and this got me wondering. Should I have watched more hockey this year? This guy is a deep thinker and I listen when he speaks. And now he says Detroit would lose to the Sharks.
The rest of it you know. San Jose went up three games to none over Detroit, but the Wings have crept back in, winning the next two.
All I can think now is, San Jose must be awfully good to be winning the series against this team that impressed me for one period awhile ago. I’m also thinking that maybe watching only one period might not be quite enough.
But it seems Detroit’s coming back.
The deckhand might be wrong after all.