Tomorrow is today and today (Tuesday) there are rumors that Pavel Datsyuk will be signing an extension with the Detroit Red Wings, which puts to rest the speculation that he was going to return to Russia after his contract expired in 2014.
Game 7 was Wednesday night; it's Friday morning and I think I'm 100-percent over the loss now. (I'll retract that statement when the puck drops Saturday afternoon.)
That's all I really have to say.
Okay, it's not.
The Red Wings were fantastic, in my opinion - outplaying their talent threshold all playoffs and creating some really exciting playoff hockey in the process. In the third period of Game 7, I tweeted that the sequence of non-stop action was like the best scenes from Top Gun. (And then it felt like Goose died in OT.) It's the most fun I remember having while watching playoff hockey since the '09 Cup.
Not that the 7-game series against Phoenix the following year or the 7-game series loss to the Sharks the following yearweren't full of fun moments; I just expected more then and much less this year, and I got pleasurably surprised.
Thank you, Red Wings, for proving my pre-lockout-shortened-season prediction wrong and playing the unlikely underdog role so beautifully. Now, go get better and make it 23 straight playoff appearances next year, when the expectations will undoubtedly be risen once again.
There were hockey pundits who thought the Red Wings would get swept by the No. 1 Blackhawks, arguably the best Blackhawks team ever. After a tough seven-game series against the mighty mighty Ducks, I will admit that a let down against the Blackhawks from a team that had, really, already exceeded expectations didn't seem completely unreasonable.
Well, following a 3-1 win on Monday night, the Red Wings have a 2-1 series lead and us Wings fans are feeling preeeeeeeeeeeeeeetty good. It's fun.
Shortly after Justin Abdelkader nearly scored after he made a nifty pass off the boards to himself, the chicken king Gustav Nyquist put on the burners, a jock-removing move on Brent Seabrook, and held back the B button until he had a wide open net to flick the puck into. 1-0 Wings. You watch:
A mere 31 seconds later, just as they were finishing up announcing the first goal with the arena still buzzing and us still horripilating, Drew Miller crashed the net and tapped in a Cory Emmerton rebound to make it 2-0, just like those fluke goals in mid 90s video games. Feelings were good at this point and going into the third.
Less than five minutes into the third, though, Patrick Kane got the Blackhawks on the board. 2-1. Also on the board was Johan Franzen, but that didn't wind up in the books for some reason.
A moment later the Hawks nearly tied the score at 2-2, but the goal was waved off due to interference with Howard, much to the chagrin (Chicago-in?) of the Blackhawks. But according to Rule No. 35.93, you don't interfere with Jimmy Howard after boarding a mule. That's a real rule I just made up. Here's the controversial video:
A moment later, Datsyuk got magical again, putting the game all but out of reach with another wrister gatorade rattler. Now you have a chance, now you don't - the magic man:
Yep, that's Pav. And that's the Red Wings winning Game 3. I haven't had this much fun watching the Red Wings since 1997. Seriously. I'm pretty sure that was the last time I didn't absolutely expect them to win each and every playoff game.
Game 4 is on Thursday night at 8pm ET. I expect the Red Wings to win. Duh.
Mike Babcock said the Red Wings sat back and watched Game 1, doing about as much skating as I did in the 4-1 loss. In Game 2, they skated and they dominated the No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks, flipping (Filppula'ing?) the script and evening the series for Game 3 on Monday in Hockeytown.
The Blackhawks lit the lamp first in the first period after a Wings defensive breakdown, allowing Patrick Kane to score his first playoff goal since he started growing his beard back in the 2011 playoffs. The Wings had three great scoring chances in the period and outshot the Blackhawks 12-8, but couldn't cash in.
It didn't take long for the Wings to even things up in the second period, though, as Damien Brunner deflected a Jakub Kindl shot past Corey Crawford a little over two minutes in. They celebrated. 14 minutes later, Henrik Zetterberg made an amazing play to fend off a diving Blackhawk and showed even better patience with the puck as defenseman Brendan Smith crashed the net for an easy one-timer goal from the stick of Captain Z. They celebrated again.
In the third, Johan Franzen wristed one by Crawford to make it 3-1 and Valtteri Filppula went flying and, during his ride, he put the game completely out of reach. We all celebrated.
In case the pic is not showing up for easy viewing, it's as follows:
Game 1: Wednesday, May 15 @ Chicago; 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC
Game 2: Saturday, May 18 @ Chicago; 1 p.m. ET on NBC
Game 3: Monday, May 20 vs. Chicago 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Game 4: Thursday, May 23 vs. Chicago 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Game 5*: Saturday, May 25 @ Chicago TBD ET on TBD
Game 6*: Monday, May 27 vs. Chicago TBD ET on TBD
Game 7*: Wednesday, May 29 @ Chicago TBD ET on TBD
* if necessary
TBD = to be determined, not a time or channel you haven't heard of before
The final minutes felt a lot like Friday night, up 3-1 until a Ducks goal would make things far too interesting, and butt clenching and stuff. The Ducks wouldn't get the equalizer this time, though, and the Red Wings would perservere in regulation and, in all, an extremely hard-faught seven-game series a lot of people, myself included, thought they weren't going to be apart of.
Quickly, here's how the Wings pulled it off in Game 7:
After Henrik Zetterberg started the scoring early in the first and the Ducks tied things up 12 minutes later, the Wings were shorthanded when Justin Abdelkader broke up a pass in his own zone and then found the five-hole at the other end of a breakaway:
Abdelkader grew up pretty fast.
The second period was scoreless until Valterri Filppula wound up with what was ultimately the game winner on a backhander:
I've already talked about what happened in the third. We wound up celebrating (or sighing in relief).
Jimmy Howard had 31 saves in the game and the new Captain played heroically in the Wings' second consecutive elimination game.
There was a time when I thought No. 22 was not going to happen, but the Red Wings have already turned their 22nd straight playoff appearance into a special one. Four out of the series' seven games went into OT (the 1st time that has ever happened for the Wings) and they won all four of their games by a single goal against a No. 2 seed. Great [nervous] success!
The Red Wings will now take on a fellow Original 6, the No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks, in the Conference Semis, which begins on Wednesday night. Fun and jokes.