Saturday, April 27, 2013

Code Red!!! Detroit Playoff Bound after Clinching 7th Seed

A legendary streak found itself extended on the shoulders of an amazing performance.

The Detroit Red Wings, who were becoming slotted as playoff no-shows as little as a week ago, defeated the Dallas Stars 3-0 tonight to clinch the 7th seed in the Western Conference and extend their active postseason appearance streak to an awe-inspiring 22 years.  It is the first trip to the playoffs for Detroit with Henrik Zetterberg as the Wings' captain.  He is only the third captain to play for the club since the streak began way back in 1990.

The past week for the Red Wings has been, as one analyst called it, a week of Game 7's, as each and every game was critical. A single point over the last four games would have cost the Wings their shot at the Cup, as at this time, the Columbus Bluejackets and Minnesota Wild have both won their final game.  Their victories would have eliminated Detroit from playoff contention in almost every scenario.  This team needed to win, and when it counted the most, that is exactly what they did, and did, and did, and did again.

The evening started off quite tense, as the Wings did not come out with as strong a start as in previous games, allowing Dallas to maintain most of the early pressure, but goaltender Jimmy Howard was tall to the task, keeping Detroit in the game.  Then, with less than 2 minutes left in the 1st period, Zetterberg put in a phenomenal effort in the corner against the Dallas defense and swept the puck in front of the Stars net.  It initially looked as thought Justin Abdelkader may have gotten a stick on the puck before it went in, but upon closer review, the goal would go to Hank, and the Wings led 1-0 going into the 2nd.

The play in the following period was much more back-and-forth, with Mike Babcock calling it a 'track meet' with all the up-and-down the ice play.  Again, Jimmy Howard was solid in net and protected Detroit's tenuous lead.  The score would remain unchanged as the two teams went to the dressing room and prepared for the final frame.

Finally, in the 3rd, the floodgates would open wide.  The Red Wings began with a chance borne of a Stars miscue on their powerplay within the first 2 minutes of the period, where the Eurotwins would pounce. Pavel Datsyuk sprang Zetterberg on a breakaway and Hank did not squander the opportunity, zipping the puck past Dallas goalie Richard Bachman and extending the lead to 2-0.  Next, just minutes later, Datsyuk would feed another teammate, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, and his wrister from above the high-slot area would find its way to the back of the net, padding the lead to a cushy 3-0 margin.

From there, it was lockdown time.  Detroit minimized the chances for Dallas, and with the help of a late penalty to Dallas with under 2 minutes to play, the Winged Wheel cruised to its berth in the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  With only the middle of the pack left to sort out positioning, it had already been determined that the Wings, sitting in 7th, will play the 2nd seeded Anaheim Ducks in the 1st Round.

Hold onto your beards, guys! Ladies, just hold onto your guys' beards, because it's playoff time in Hockeytown once again!!!

Let's Go Red Wings!!!