Jeff Riger: 20 And Still Going! But Is It Legit?

The home winning streak seems to be really catching on!

The last two games at the Joe have had amazing atmosphere and like the previous 18 games, the Wings won. Friday night it was a 2-1 shootout victory over Anaheim and last night it was a 4-3 thriller against the rarely-seen-in-Detroit Philadelphia Flyers. And now you look up and all of a sudden, the Wings have won 20 in a row in downtown Detroit, a NHL record. The 2011-12 Wings, the 1975-76 Flyers and everybody’s favorite, the 1929-30 Bruins are the only three teams in the game ever to accomplish the feat. Detroit has a chance to break it, come Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.

No matter how you look at it, what Detroit has done is an amazing accomplishment.

But is it legit?

In every sport, there exists a group of people who consider themselves more educated and more enlightened than the average media member or fan. These people are traditionalists, they are purists, they would rather have things remain like they were in 1950 than to ever see the sport evolve. I usually get annoyed by these people and during the winning streak; this group has been very vocal. I guarantee you have heard them!

This group is saying that the Wings record is not legit, no matter how many games they win in a row at home because they have an unfair advantage…

The shootout!

According to the ‘hockey elite,’ it has been easier for the Wings to accomplish 20 in a row because they have that extra session of the game. Back when the Flyers and Bruins were making history, games could end in a tie which obviously would end any sort of home winning streak. Now if things are even after overtime then a shootout determines everything, which I actually really like and the ‘hockey elite’ do not.

During the game last night, I asked on Twitter if the record should be legit, considering the change in the game and the majority of people actually said NO!

But how can that be?

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Detroit has won all 20 games in regulation or in OT, they have not. Not even close! Of the 20 wins, the Wings have 3 shootout victories, 3 games that would be considered a tie back in the day.

For all the people that want to stand on a soap box and preach that this record is not legit please explain yourself as I will explain my point of view.

Below I have listed my top 3 reasons as to why Detroit’s record of 20 consecutive wins at home is indeed legit:

1. No control

The Wings have absolutely no control over the fact that the league has decided to implement the shootout. It’s there, so it counts. Last time I checked a win back in the day was worth 2 points and now in the present, it is the same way. How can you give a team a couple of very important points for using the shootout but not call it a win? You can’t! Also let’s not forget that Detroit actually has to win the extra session of hockey. I know the Wings have some of the better talent in the game, but the other team has the exact same chance too. Both teams get 3 skaters and a goalie, so what’s the problem? Heck, Detroit has had to win a couple of them with a third string net minder. Hockey records already read with 3 categories, a win, loss and overtime loss. Now, so the purists don’t get offended, should we make it four? So during the winning streak, Detroit would actually be 17-0-0 and 3? The extra 3, for wins in shootouts? It’s silly. It counts! Get over it!

2. The times

While the purists will be quick to point out that back in the day teams did not have the advantage of the shootout, I will point out that the game was easier to dominate back then. When the Bruins set the record there was 6 teams and Boston was the best in the game, it’s a surprise that they didn’t win more than 20 straight. And for the Flyers, nobody can tell me that the parody in hockey was the same back then as it is to this day. Take a look at the standings! Every team is so bunched up that a couple losses in a row can put you out of the postseason on any given day. There is now a salary cap. Teams can’t stockpile oodles and oodles of talent like they did back in the day just because they were willing to spend the most money. Remember Detroit doing that exact same thing? Currently there are 5 teams in the Western conference where 4 points separates the 8th teams from the 13th team. In the East, just 11 points is the difference from the 8th seed and the worst squad in the conference. The standings are bunched up because every team is the same. So even with the addition of the shootout, these games are tough to win, especially 20 of them in a row at home. Doesn’t that deserve credit? If you continue to say the shootout is an unfair advantage for a team in this era, you have to admit that things were easier for teams back in previous eras!

1. Why hasn’t it been done before?

If the shootout makes things that much easier for teams these days, why haven’t more teams accomplished the same feat? Correct me if I’m wrong, but no other team in the shootout era has come close to sniffing 20 games in a row! Detroit has a home record of 23-2 and 1, and only the Blues have over 20 wins at home. That’s got to speak to how hard it is to win on any given night, even at home.

So why don’t the ‘elite’ celebrate the Wings instead of trying to knock them down?

What do you think? Is the record legit? I obviously think it is!

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