This is a contrast to my previous post where I discussed 5 things I think sucked about the playoffs.
#5. Chicago showing their true colors
Up until this year I didn’t share the hatred that so man Red Wings fan have for the Chicago Blackhawks. I didn’t grow up in Detroit and the years that I did live in Michigan I was pretty young and wasn’t much of a hockey fan. Even throughout these playoffs I found myself rooting for Chicago more than Philadelphia, but that all changed after they won the cup. The videos showing Chicago fans chanting “Detroit sucks” moments after winning the cup, the fans that regard themselves as the most loyal and devoted fans when half of them don’t know what icing is, and the belief they are a new dynasty when their team is very likely to be dismantled before October has made me realize that all these years…I was wrong. I will not possess the animosity towards Chicago of my Red Wing brethren, but I can assure all of you I will not ever root for them again.
More after the break…
#4. Game 7 against Phoenix
I thought game 7 against Phoenix in the first round was Detroit at their best. From the moment the puck dropped to the last second of the third period Detroit was a pure domination machine. I don’t think any team past or present could have stopped them that night. Despite outscoring the Coyotes 6-1, they out shot them 50-33 and went 3 out of 6 on the power play. That game reminded me what the red and white can do when all gears are working in perfect harmony.
#3. Game 4 against San Jose
Another stellar performance was game 4 against San Jose where Johan Franzen scored 5 goals. Franzen scored the game winning goal just 7:50 into the first and in less than 4 minutes he would have a hat trick. Unfortunately the Red Wings fizzled out in game 5, but game 4 gave us all hope that a 0-3 comeback was not only possible, but probable.
#2. Push to the playoffs
Before the Olympic break the longest streak of making the playoffs in all sports looked to be in serious jeopardy. After the Olympic break Detroit won 16 of 21 games to catapult themselves into the fifth seed. The Red Wings demonstrated (pay attention Blackhawks fans) why they are successful year after year. I admit, I had my doubts. I thought with so many injuries that it was hard to get any sort of momentum from game to game and I would have been happy if they squeaked in as the eighth seed. I was astonished to see the Red Wings win night after night and whatever it was that motivated them Babcock needs to bottle it.
#1. Jimmy Howard
My favorite thing about these playoffs was the performance of Jimmy Howard. I still do not understand all the tweets and blog comments criticizing him for letting in a weak goal here and there. Yes, he was not perfect. Yes, he let in a few that he probably shouldn’t have. Will he get better? Absolutely he will! As he gets more experience he’ll learn to protect the short side, the post, and all other sneaky places players like to sneak pucks through. He had a 0.924 save percentage for the regular season with an average of 2.26 goals against. How’s this for experience…he spent 3,740 minutes on the ice! That’s a little over 2 1/2 days of solid goal tending! His stats dipped slightly in the playoffs with a 0.915 save percentage and 2.75 goals against. He accumulated another 720 minutes of ice time or another 12 hours. If you don’t think he is in and Osgood is on his way out consider this…Howard was on the ice for nearly 80% of the season and 100% of the playoffs.