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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Home sweet home

On Tuesday night, the Detroit Red Wings were set to play the Dallas Stars in Detroit. But this wasn't any regular game, the Red Wings had a chance to change history, a win Tuesday would mark the Red Wings 21st straight win at home! From the drop of the puck you could tell the Red Wings wanted this win bad, and to the joy of the Red Wing faithful at the "Joe" the Wings defeated the Stars 3-1. Giving them 21 straight wins at home, something the NHL hasn't seen since 1975.

In sports not just hockey, playing at home is said to give a team an advantage or edge against the opponents. Now I'm not a huge believer in the "home ice advantage;" I can see how it sometimes helps a team to have the crowd behind them, or to sleep in their own beds for some of the game, but it's not the do all or end all for me. But the Detroit Red Wings seem to have something special going at Joe Louis Arena this year. Going into Tuesday night's game, the Wings were tied with the 1929-1930 Boston Bruins and the 1975-1976 Philadelphia Flyers with 20 straight home wins. But many feel the Red Wings streak shouldn't be put in the same category as the ones from back in the day, as 3 of their wins came by way of the shootout. Now hear me out, first of all I am in no way a fan of the shootout; it's a horrible way for a good hard fought hockey game to end, and teams often play to get the 1 point instead of working their butts to get two. But my biased opinion aside, if the Red Wings had lost one of those 3 shootouts, the winning streak would have ended no? So technically it's still a win as they outscored their opponents. The shootout is just as easy to lose as to win, the wining team of the shootout is usually just lucky. There could be a hot goalie, players fan on shots, there is no guarantee that a team will win going into a shootout. If anything it is harder in this new era of the NHL for a team to carry on a streak like the Red Wings have then back when the Bruins did it!

One player who deserves a ton of props, is the guy between the piped for the Red Wings. No not Jimmy Howard, Joey MacDonald. Since being recalled from the AHL, MacDonald has gone 4-1-1 with a .930 Save Percentage and 1.72 Goals Against Average. Talk about pressure, getting called up to play in the NHL, midseason, and while your team is in the middle of a march toward history. But the Red Wings haven't just relied on one netminder, they've used 3 different goalies during their streak. (Howard, MacDonald and Ty Conklin) Despite having used different goalies they all had to be sharp as 6 of the wins were 1 goal games.

Lets look at some of the differences between the Broad Street Bullies 20 straight home wins and the Red Wings 21 straight wins. The only reason the Flyers streak "ended" was because the regular season ended. In the Playoffs the Flyers continued winning home games, which technically extended their streak to 24 games. The Flyers only lost 5 games at home all season including playoffs, where as the Wings have already lost 3 games at home. Now I'm not comparing and trying to say the Red Wings streak isn't as impressive, because you can't honestly compare the two it's like comparing apples and oranges. These streaks were both done in different eras of the NHL, and therefore both are amazing feats. For those who think the Detroit streak isn't as good, I'd like to see your favorite team try to hold a candle to the Wings. My hat is off to the Red Wings for even coming close to this historic record.

Now I don't think anyone can come flat out and say they expected the Red Wings to win 20 or more straight games at home, but the Red Wings are always one of those "semi quiet" teams that play exceptionally well all season but manage to fly under the radar. But you can see how fitting it is for a team like Detroit to break this record. They are one of the classiest teams in the league, and have some of the best veteran players. When you have players like Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Holmstrem who know what it means to win the Stanley Cup and have experience and class, then yes this record is feasible. Detroit, lead by their veterans, play the game the "right way", when was the last time a Red Wing was suspended for a cheap hit?
When you play the game the right way and have class, the hockey gods tend to show your team favor; you get some lucky bounces, score some lucky goals, some missed calls, things just go your way. So winning 21 straight home games is both amazing and is only possible by a skilled team but also a bit lucky. But it's really quite remarkable, everyone has been waiting for the dynasty of the Red Wings to burn and crash, a Dynasty like this is not suppossed to happen during the new salary cap era. But the Red Wings just won't give up, they always find a way to be right in the mix. Despite players like Yzerman and Hasek calling it quits, it hasn't slowed them down. But with a captain in his 40's a core group of players in their 30's and a 3rd string goalie between the pipes the Red Wings keep making history. The team I just described most would just write off, but no the Red Wings with their unusual team find themselves on top of the NHL standings.

However if I'm the Red Wings it's not the home winning streak I'm most focussed on; At the Joe arena in Detroit they are 24-2-1 pretty decent record, but away from Detroit they are a modest 15-15-1. If the Wings want to win the cup and be a competitive playoff team, they need to improve their play away from home. Although the Wings will probably lock up home ice advantage for the playoffs, they will still need to win at least 2 road games in each series.

So let's just stop for a moment and not compare the winning streaks, they were done in different eras under different rules, This streak by the Red Wings is just simply remarkable and deserves some props.
Who knows how long the wings can continue the streak, maybe they can get it to 30 and continue dominating at home. But never the less, this is just simply remarkable.

Take a moment to like our Facebook Page. I'm away this weekend so you wont hear from me again till Next Tuesday or Wednesday. Have a great long weekend and hopefully your teams keep winning.

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