“This is the Red Wings’ series to lose, not their series to win.”
It’s a line that was said in my household when the Red Wings lost Game Five to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. While we don’t like to think of that series often, those words are still horribly true.
The Red Wings had the Chicago Blackhawks backed into an unfamiliar corner for them, a 3-1 series lead with one more win knocking out their Original Six opponents. With how steady the Red Wings played in those three consecutive wins, fans hoped the loss in Game Five was just Chicago getting their bearings straight for one game and the Wings would finish them off in Game Six.
That wasn’t the case.
Now, we are faced with a Game Seven that neither side expected at the start of this series. Chicago didn’t expect to be down 3-1 and have to force a Game Seven, and Detroit didn’t anticipate winning so many games and then dropping two in a row to blow their 3-1 series lead.
Game Sevens are always difficult to stomach.
Bad officiating aside, this is the Red Wings’ series to lose, no matter how much you want to blame the refs. It’s easier to blame someone else, ourselves, our superstitions for not working rather than blaming the team, but it may be at that point where we need to look at our roster, look at how we performed this season and say, “Dang, who knew we would have made it this far!”
Dropping a 3-1 series lead is embarrassing, but just look at the team. No one had faith that we could pose any sort of threat to Chicago and yet we’re taking them to a seventh game…despite the fact that they‘re taking us to a seventh game.
It’s hard to keep a positive spin on things.
Fans should have known that a 3-1 series lead would take us down a path of no return. Things weren’t said and done before Game Five started. Nothing was wrapped up in a neat little package. While it looked as though this team had gotten under Chicago’s skin in Games 2-4, it is easy to see that Chicago is now under Detroit’s skin.
The key right now is to keep expectations low. None of us (or very few of us) expected this particular roster to make it very far in the playoffs. Focus on that.
This team is its own worst enemy going into Game Seven. This is their game to lose. You can’t blame the referees and you can’t blame the hockey gods. The potential to win is there: If the Red Wings can get Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Damien Brunner, or any combination of the three to get a goal or do something that isn’t just standing around looking pretty, they will be much better off than Games Five and Six.
It all comes down to Wednesday evening. And win or lose, Red Wings fans should allow themselves to take a step back from the outcome and be proud of what this strange combination of veterans and rookies have done in the face of such media adversity.