This Red Wings team was too good to be down 3-0. While there were signs in the Phoenix series that not everything was running on all cylinders (goaltending struggles, power play issues, injuries), it was hard to imagine that this team was going through the same version as their 2010 counterparts. With each goal and effort the Red Wings have put forth during this absolutely incredible comeback, it’s hard to imagine that this team is just 60 minutes from an incredible comeback and a trip to Vancouver for the conference finals.
Teams coming back to win games 4, 5, 6 and 7 has suddenly become a major fad in the NHL. Before the last two seasons featuring dramatic comebacks in the Eastern Conference, and a near comeback in the Western Conference, the 1942 Red Wings were always the standard bearer for teams that had lost a three game lead. While six decades has been a long time to let all wounds heal around that Stanley Cup Final, it still does not make up for the fact that the Toronto comeback is mentioned pretty much anytime a series gets into a 3-0 situation in hockey. However, for most Wings fans, there’s a recent game 7 memory that especially stings when the Sharks are the opponent.
Long before Igor Larionov was a fan-favorite in Detroit, he and Sandis Ozolinsh carried the Sharks to a dramatic seven game series win over the Red Wings in 1994. It was the first ever playoff series victory for the Sharks and the winning goal happened to come off a Chris Osgood giveaway in his own zone. The lasting effects from that series eventually led to Osgood losing favor as the starting goalie in favor of Mike Vernon, and to the beginning of the end for Paul Coffey in a Red Wings uniform.
Most importantly, it was the Sharks loss that sparked the Red Wings to a series of strong years that has continued to this day. Think of the seasons that immediately followed the 1994 game 7 meltdown. In 1995, the team makes it to their first Stanley Cup final in three decades against New Jersey. In 1996, a record regular season of wins is halted by a streaking Avalanche team. In 1997 and 1998 the team wins its first set of Stanley Cups since 1955.
If the Sharks were catalysts to success for Red Wings teams of the ’90s and beyond, all Red Wings fans are hoping that this comeback will spur the Red Wings on to another Stanley Cup victory.