April 25, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) receives congratulations from center Pavel Datsyuk (13) after the game against the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings Last Three Games: Desperation Hockey

Desperation has never looked so good, Red Wings fans. In the words of the J. Geils Band, “Every now and then, we do get desperate.”

And that desperation has led to the best hockey the Detroit Red Wings have played all season.

Look at how the Red Wings have performed in their last three games. Jimmy Howard has been at the top of his game, letting in only three goals on eighty total shots. He had a shutout against Nashville. The team’s third line has been carrying the play when the big guns aren’t out on the ice, out-muscling the oppositions.

Look at who has scored: Johan Franzen (four goals, one of them game-winning), Valtteri Filppula (two goals, hitting 100 career goals), Pavel Datsyuk (two goals, three assists), and Damien Brunner, Jordin Tootoo, Patrick Eaves, and Justin Abdelkader all have a goal as well. Tootoo and Eaves have game-winning goals.

Let’s not forget about Henrik Zetterberg. While he may not have any goals in the past three games, he has seven assists. Being reunited with the other half of the Euro Twins has done wonders for both of them. And swapping out Franzen, Brunner, and Abdelkader as the third on their line is something magical.

Desperation isn’t always a bad thing. Having to claw your way to a playoff spot is something that Red Wings fans have never had to deal with, at least not in the last 25 years or so. That desperate feeling, that feeling of your fate being in someone else’s hands (I’m looking at you, Dallas!), makes every game mean a little bit more.

In Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts this week, he talks about the Vancouver Canucks new style of play and how they have had to scratch and claw their way to their title this season. This line, however, can be applied to the Red Wings:

“While the organization believes this is an important metamorphosis that will make the team better in the long-term, fans haven’t always enjoyed the grind-it-out approach. When you’re used to an elegant style of victory, change can convince people you’re not as strong.”

Isn’t this what fans have been complaining about with the Red Wings, to an extent? Haven’t we been calling for Ken Holland‘s head because our team finally looks shaky and that it’s in a transition? Even later on in Friedman’s article, Daniel Sedin likens their play to that of Detroit: Everyone judging you on what you should be and not what you are.

That’s something we should have kept in mind this season. We should have known better than to think we would be as dominant as before after losing so many key pieces. We should have known not to be so hard on our team, knowing that at some point they would find that magic switch and kick it into full throttle. But thinking about it now just makes us Captain Hindsight. You can’t change the past, so let’s not dwell on the could-have-beens.

While our faith in our team to continue the streak of playoff appearances to 22 years is high, we have to wonder in the back of our mind if that desperation play will last its way well into the playoffs? The team we’ve seen in the past three games has been reminiscent of the team we’ve loved since 2008 (though still with its own gaping flaws), but it’s only been the past three games.

It’s easy to get carried away.

If/When we make the playoffs, we will be facing either Chicago or Anaheim. Chicago is better for travel, though we haven’t won a game against them this season, but Anaheim is better for the match-up because our record against them is awesome.

So let’s not get carried away thinking about the future. Let’s focus on the hockey we’ve been seeing and the wonderful winning capabilities of this Detroit Red Wings roster when they are in desperation mode.

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