Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Rare Post Approaches - Right and Wrong

Back in November, I made a bold statement. With the Red Wings' OT loss last night that clinched them another chance at Lord Stanley's Cup, I am forced to address that statement and declare two things.

  1. Ultimately, I was wrong when I said that the Red Wings team that couldn't beat the Winnipeg Jets in regulation was not a playoff team
  2. That statement demands a giant asterisk 
I chose this one because to some fans, my statement was probably equally controversial
Did the Red Wings end up making the playoffs? Yes they did, and I'm elated that they did. I would describe the team similarly to how I felt about them last season: If they continue to play as well as they did in the home stretch, they could easily upset most, if not any, team that they come up against in the playoffs. 

But this is where the asterisk comes in, because the team that made it to the playoffs is not the same team that couldn't beat the Jets in regulation. If you look at the box scores for those two games against Winnipeg, the names Cleary, Bertuzzi, Tootoo and even fucking Samuelsson show up. Weiss' name is there, as is Almquist and Ouellet. No Nyquist, Jurco or Sheahan. There was Tatar, and Gleandening made an appearance, but we were relying on the tired old guard and not our young, brilliant prospects.

The team that won hockey games and got us into the playoffs is not the same team that lost to Winnipeg twice. The Red Wings that win hockey games is made up of the balls to the wall every night dedication of the young guns. It's Nyquist blowing up at the right time, Tatar being consistently good and working hard every night, Jurco blossoming, Sheahan doing fantastic in between those guys, and Gleandening doing whatever the fuck he does. And while Weiss v Legwand is up for debate, there's no denying that having Legwand - meaning having a guy who isn't hurt and can actually play - has had an impact. Maybe Weiss would be better than Legwand if he wasn't hurt.

But he is hurt.

Our defense stopped being hurt all the time and grew more consistent - even Smith and Quincey looked better. Howard and Gustavsson started playing closer to their level, and we've started to get healthy again at the right time. All of those things, for the most part, I said had to change if we wanted a shot at the playoffs when I made my initial claim. 

But let's not be naive, smug assholes about this either. Once again we had to claw our way into the playoffs. In order to truly contend for the Cup, you can't claw your way in with two games left. You have to have more or less clinched for your spot in late February/early March, and the rest of the season is just trying to figure out which seed you're going to be.

Before anyone goes overboard with the "I told you so's", remind yourself that I was almost right, and I was only wrong because what I said needed to happen did happen.

So yes, I was wrong. But only just. And as a Red Wings fan, I'm pretty stoked about being wrong.

Let's Go Red Wings