By Dan Leach
Two of the greatest words in Sports get to be put to use on Sunday Night…..GAME 7!. There really is nothing like it and a Game 7 in hockey, where one goal can win you a series, makes it even more special. This is a Red Wings team that is definitely unique compared to the others during the 22 straight playoffs years.
There is a ton of youth, a goaltender that can never seem to do enough to calm the fans venom, even though I believe he is the MVP of the team this season. And of course there is the absence Tomas Holmstrom and of one of the best to ever lace them up in Nick Lidstrom.
Yet the seventh seeded Wings find themselves one game away from taking down the favored and second seeded Ducks, one game away from a date with Chicago.
A season that in many ways found the Wings lucky to just get into the postseason. It all comes down to this, this is what hockey players and fans live for . A one game take-all festival of nerves, a team that really has nothing to lose against a team that is supposed to win, a chance for the Wings to extend a season into something that could become very special.
The defense has been a point of contention all season long and almost cost the Wings the series in Game 6. There have been moments of absolute breakdown that can not happen in a setting like Game 7. Yes there is a lot of youth on the backend of the ice, but these youngsters might just have the naivety in a Game 7 situation that just might become an advantage.
There can not be the careless turnovers in the Wings zone like Kyle Quincy’s in Game 6 and there is no room for the Wings defense to play tentative against a team in Anaheim that has tremendous offensive depth. This is a chance for a player like Brendan Smith to grow up before our eyes and a vet like Niklas Kronwall to help calm the youngsters nerves.
Blame Jimmy Howard all you want , but the defense has been a major reason for many of the goals that have been scored on him and in Game 7 it HAS to be the difference and not a liability.
2-HANK AND PAVEL
The Captain showed why he wears the “C” in game 6 after not scoring at all in the series, finding a way to score two of the biggest goals of the season. Him and Datsyuk seemed to be really back in tune in game 6 and I think that one of the two will need to score in Game 7 if the Wings are going to win.
It is beautiful to watch the two pass to each other and let Datyuk make the move he did on the first goal in Game 6. More of that in Game 7 will be key and the way the two lead and help create chances for each other and the rest of the players on ice with them is vital for the Wings.
1-JIMMY HOWARD GETS HIS CHANCE TO QUIET THE DOUBTERS
Say what you will about Jimmy Howard’s inability to win big games, or how he is simply not good enough to “steal a game”, well Howard has simply been excellent in the past two games and gets a chance to show just how far he has come. I firmly believe that Howard is the main reason the Wings even had a chance to be in this postseason and Sunday night is what all goaltenders dream of.
A Chance to perform at their highest level and help their team win hockey’s penultimate test, Game 7 on the road. Howard outplayed Jonas Hiller in Game 6 and absolutely will have to do the same in Game 7 if the Wings are to advance. I think not only will Howard shine, but will show in the most vital of hockey situations, that he has reached that level of elite goaltender who is able to win a game on his own when need be.
DTM Prediction- Wings 3-Ducks 2 Game Winner -Justin Abdelkader
Follow Dan Leach on Twitter @dtmleach