Halfway there

May 2, 2008

That had to happen. Maybe not in the fashion it did, but the Red Wings had to destroy the Avalanche if they were going to be worthy of calling themselves legitimate Cup contenders. Colorado was missing essentially everybody: Smyth, Statsny, Forsberg, Wolski and Svatos all missed most of the series. What you had left were a bunch of character guys (Laperriere, Aranason, Brunette), an aging and perhaps finished sniper in Joe Sakic, and the perpetually underwhelming Milan Hejduk. The Wings had to throttle these guys.

What’s impressive was just how much of a throttling it was. Jose Theodore was this year’s hot goalie going into this round, the same type of player the Wings have “historically” made into a legend (gosh, if I hear some derivative of the phrase “What’s with the Wings making some no-name goalie into a legend every year in the playoffs?” I’m going to barf). Well, the Wings absolutely shredded him. He got pulled in 3/4 games. And the Avs defense, unlike their forward corps, was entirely healthy (although the role of forwards in overall team defense is often minimized). 

I mean, when you’re winning an elimination game on the road 8-2 that says something about your team, right?

I’m not handing them the Cup, but I’m not counting them out of anything anymore. I too wondered if they were tough enough, and well, they are. I too wondered if they could perform in the playoffs, and they’re now on a six game winning streak. They outscored Colorado 21-9. Johan Franzen singularly had more goals in the series than the entire Avs team. Chris Osgood let in perhaps 2 goals he’d like back, if that — the rest of the nine were all tip-ins, re-directs, and point-blank slot shots no goalie is expected to stop. 

What can you say? They look incredible. Don’t go planning a parade or anything, but there’s no reason to count them out this year. There’s no hole to overcome anymore. There’s no question that needs to be answered, like last year when we wondered if they had the toughness and the firepower to beat Anaheim. If the Wings play like this, they can easily beat anyone. And that’s not a discredit to the opposition, which is formidable. Dallas is an excellent team and the series scares me, and don’t get me started on the Pens.

But I’ll still take the Wings in any series, and it’s very rarely I give them such favor going into a series. They’ve stolen every reason I have to be pessimistic. They might get beat, sure. They’re only halfway done. It’s more likely that they won’t win the Stanley Cup than they will. But, gosh, I don’t know how I can get them the ultimate appraisal right now. I sat there stunned last night. 

This is going to be so much fun. Go Wings!

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