Detroit Red Wings: Ranking the Cap Era Teams: #1


Over the past two weeks, Octopus Thrower has ranked each of the ten Detroit Red Wings teams during the Salary Cap Era. Below is our final installment.

Regular Season and Stanley Cup Playoff success were both used as the metrics for judging ranking. Stanley Cup Playoff success was given a greater weight when determining final rankings. 

Today we focus on the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings. 

ICYMI, here are links for the other teams:

#10 – 2013-2014 Red Wings
#9 – 2014-2015 Red Wings
#8 – 2011-2012 Red Wings
#7 – 2012-2013 Red Wings
#6 – 2009-2010 Red Wings
#5 – 2005-2006 Red Wings
#4 – 2010-2011 Red Wings
#3 – 2006-2007 Red Wings
#2- 2008-2009 Red Wings

#1: 2007-2008 Detroit Red Wings

Record: 54-21-7

Playoff Result: Defeated the Nashville Predators 4-2 in Western Conference Quarter-Finals; Defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 in Western Conference Semi-Finals; Defeated the Dallas Stars 4-2 in Western Conference Finals; Defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in Stanley Cup Final.

Team MVP (Chosen By Octopus Thrower Staff): Henrik Zetterberg

Team’s Theme Song: We are the Champions by Queen

Heading Into the 2007-2008 Season

Though memories of the previous year’s defeat against the Ducks lingered, hopes were high heading into the season. The Wings had one of the best goalie tandems in modern history with Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood, and Niklas Lidstrom was looking to become the first European-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup. It felt like it could be the year. Was it ever.

The 2008 Stanley Cup Playoff

The Moment That Defined The 2008 Playoffs: Chris Osgood replacing Dominik Hasek in Game 4 against the Predators. Though the Red Wings had a close call in Game 5, Osgood helped them win nine straight games and led them into an eventual showdown with the Eastern Conference Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Skinny: The Wings dominated the first three rounds of the playoffs, exemplified by a semi-finals sweep over the Avalanche that put a permanent end one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports. So many things went right. The Mule kicked off nine goals — as many as Colorado scored in the entire series — breaking Gordie Howe’s single-series record of eight in the process. (And that was in seven games.)

Detroit looked like it would easily dispatch Dallas in the WCF, winning the first three games handily. After dropping the next two (can’t win them all, right?), the Wings clinched the conference in Dallas in Game 6, setting the stage for a top-tiered Stanley Cup Final. Datyuk, Crosby, Zetterberg, Hossa, Franzen, Malkin … well, you get it.

The Red Wings continued their relentless attack, and Ozzie didn’t allow a single goal in the first two games. They bounced back after a 3-2 Game 3 loss, and were primed to hoist the Cup on home ice in Game 5. After spotting the Penguins a quick 2-0 lead, Detroit clawed ahead in the game 3-2. The Cup was out, the lockers were covered in plastic, and it was time to celebrate the franchise’s 11th Stanley Cup.

Not so fast.

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Max Talbot scored a gut-wrenching goal with 34 seconds left in the third, and Petr Sykora finished it midway through triple overtime. That hurt, and things seemed grim. Sure, the Red Wings still held a 3-2 series lead, but to be that close to the cup only to lose seemed insurmountable. Could they bounce back?

Yes they could.

I haven’t been one to editorialize much, even though this is officially a blogging site. But let me paint this picture for you:

With 12:26 left in the third period of Game 6, and the Wings clinging to a one goal lead, Marc-Andre Fleury seemingly had the puck frozen. Watch the video above (around the 2:25 mark of the clip) and you’ll see play virtually stop, but the ref (who never lost sight of the puck) start emphatically signaling a goal.

I was the first in the room to see the referee’s arm move. I don’t remember much after jumping up to holler “IT’S IN, IT’S IN THE NET, IT’S A GOAL,” even though I had no clue how it went in. The melee that ensued in the living room of that suburban-Chicago apartment included spilled beer, spilled jaeger, a rug burn on my forehead, and lots of screaming. It culminated with angry neighbors on the floor below us pounding their ceiling with what I assume was a broom handle. I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t really care. It was one of the sweetest goals that I’ve ever experienced – a memory I carry with me to this day.

And because of some late-game drama, it turned out to be the Cup-winning goal.

Zetterberg captured the Conn Smythe, not just for his offensive output (13 goals and 27 points), but also for the way he shut down Sidney Crosby. Seriously – watch the play he makes at 49 seconds of that clip.

Ozzie posted 14 wins, a 1.55 playoff GAA, and a .930 save percentage.

As they say in Ann Arbor, hail to the victors.

Why They Earned Their #1 Ranking: Stanley. Cup. Champs. Cup Champs! The only Wings team in the cap era that managed to win it, and the only one Mike Babcock would capture while at the helm of the Red Wings.

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