This was supposed to be the Western road trip that was going to doom the Red Wings. After all, they were SUPPOSED to head out to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver and look like a shell of their better days. Many thought they would scrap out a single point and come home having to play catch-up for the rest of the season. In a literal blink of an eye, the Wings set themselves in prime position for the end of the season.
Listening to sports radio on Sunday morning (following Saturday night’s close call against Vancouver), many fans expressed that they had not normally paid this much attention to the regular season. Usually the winter months were meant for the Wings to participate in a race towards the President’s Trophy. There would be the occasional exciting game here or there, but nothing would matter until the first round of the playoffs. 2010 is not a usual year.
If anyone is a Wings fan and disagrees with the NHL participation in the Olympics, this season may change your mind. If the Wings did not have the time to rest up and get a new mindset going into the final six weeks, the chances of making the playoffs would have been considerably different. Do not believe for one second that the play of Rafalski and other Wings in the Olympics did not serve a warning to the other teams. There’s no doubt that Ryan Miller or Roberto Luongo are given different game plans today based on their play in Vancouver.
Speaking of Vancouver – what is in the water there? Henrik Zetterberg followed in line with recent Red Wings history with an amazing goal with just under 0.3 seconds on the clock. Last second shots happen in the NCAA tournament (see Korie Lucious) and the NBA (see Chauncey Billups), but they don’t happen in a sport where the rules present three different ways to win a game (see 5-on-5, 4-on-4, shootout). If the Wings can keep this magic up for the stretch run, who knows how much damage they will do in the playoffs.