By: Tom Millikan
Many thought the Red Wings playoff streak of 21 consecutive seasons was in jeopardy as they entered this lockout shortened season. I was one of those doubters. As the season unfolded it was clear the streak was in doubt. Couple that with the bad taste left in my mouth by the lockout, it was tough to have a positive outlook about the team.
With the playoff streak in doubt and their backs against the wall, the Wings closed the regular season on a four-game winning streak to surge to the 7th seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
You had to respect and admire what the Wings accomplished to extend their playoff streak to 22 seasons. However, not seeing a playoff run on the horizon made it easy to think of the team as an afterthought at best. Shame on me for not buying into experience, desire, heart and will.
The Red Wings have caught fire in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They came back down 3-2 in the first round having to win on the road in Game 7 vs. Anaheim. Now they have the prohibitive Western Conference favorite Chicago Blackhawks on the ropes.
The Wings are playing their best hockey at the right time. Henrik Zetterberg is showing us why he was named captain. He has earned the ‘C.’ Jimmy Howard looks like he is becoming the playoff goalie. The young players are growing before our eyes. How can’t you love this story?
So I made a conscious choice Tuesday morning after Game 3. Enjoy this ride. We take for granted what this franchise has become. Mike Babcock has molded a hard-nosed team that is leaving everything on the ice. They represent what this city loves most. Grit!
The Wings have won every time they have had to this season. That is a tremendous character trait to have. Would you bet against them at this point? I know I wouldn’t and I say that coming off as a hypocrite if you asked me the same thing three weeks ago.
Sports are the ultimate reality show. They make non-believers believers. Believers dream. So with that renewed mindset going forward I challenged myself to dream a little bit. What would be the ultimate ending to this unbelievable story?
Here it is. Once the Wings rid themselves of President’s Trophy Blackhawks, let’s hope the San Jose Sharks are waiting in the Western Conference Finals. Sure beating the defending Stanley Cup Champ Kings would be nice, but the Wings owe the Sharks for two consecutive playoff series losses.
Taking out Patrick Marleau, Randy Couture and that goon Joe Thornton would be the perfect exit from the Western Conference for the Wings.
Awaiting the Wings in Stanley Cup Finals, a rubber match with Sidney Crosby and the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. I want payback for 2009. I want it to go seven games. I want the Wings to win the Cup on Pittsburgh ice. Make Crosby shake the Wings’ hands on his ice. Now that would be the ultimate storybook ending.
From non-believer to dreamer. Thank you Red Wings. Lesson learned.