Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wings Earn Playoff-Clinching Point in Pittsburgh

Finally, a shootout loss we can feel good about!

The Wings managed to pull even with the Pittsburgh Penguins late in the 3rd after giving up two leads, but weren't able to put down the Pens for good as Detroit lost their match yesterday 4-3 after a shootout.  The point from that loss was the last point the Red Wings needed to secure their berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year, and this has arguably been one of the toughest of all 23 years.

There have been an inordinate amount of hurdles for Detroit to jump over just to get to this point--primary among them being the ungodly number of injuries the team has suffered.  Depleting what was already a roster with some big holes didn't bode well for the Wings, but then a miracle happened:

The kids in Grand Rapids turned out to be riper than we thought.

Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, and Danny DeKeyser among others accepted the challenge of filling roles far beyond their years and have been nothing short of stellar.  Add to that the young fixtures Tomas Tatar and Gus Nyquist--of whom we knew would be regulars on the team despite the weirdness with Nyquist--and you get a youth movement for the ages.

Nyquist in particular has been superb, playing the best hockey of his life ever since taking the coaching staff's advice to maintain a more shoot-first attitude.  Since then, he's taken himself all the way up to the top of Detroit's goal leaders, and the gap between him and everyone else is wide to say the least.

Dekeyser has been integral to the Detroit blueline.  The young defensive genius is easily in the Red Wings' top 3 D-men, and after the most recent injury to Jonathan Ericsson which has him still sidelined, the Kaiser has played with poise and a measure of calm that few players his age exhibit.

There are so many great stories to talk about when you look back at this year's team, and we still have the playoffs to look forward to.  Be it Pittsburgh or Boston that Detroit faces in the first round, the contest is sure to be an entertaining one!  We'll be there soon as the Wings only have 2 games left in the regular season, but the biggest challenge has been cleared: We're in.

Now, anything can happen.