When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Central division in 2010, the celebration lasted well into the night at the United Center. After all, this was the Blackhawks’ first division victory since it was called the Norris, and it was a tangible example of how Chicago had overtaken the Red Wings for one season. Now, with that one outlier out of the way, the Red Wings have clinched Central division championship 13 of 17, and quickly put memories of that 10 goal game behind them.
We may look back at the end of the season at the recent Blues debacle as the turning point for a team looking for an identity. The Red Wings have not looked like a confident bunch since they had the Stanley Cup raised in their building in 2009. If they are to become the team of great success that we have all come to expect, the Red Wings will need to stay healthy and reduce the amount of shots their goalies see over the next two-plus months.
Also lost to many within the news of the division championship, was the tidbit that the Red Wings had recently clinched a playoff berth for an amazing 20th straight season. There is no other team in any of the professional sports leagues that can claim such sustained success. Think of that – the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, Boston Celtics – all iconic teams that have had the occasional one season slip-up.
Looking back on the last quarter century for the Red Wings, the victories and 100-plus point seasons that have become commonplace were once unimaginable. I can still recall the excitement in this town when the Wings beat Minnesota in 1992 for their first playoff series win in four years. Victories and championships have since turned Detroit into Hockeytown, and expectations have turned us into nothing less than Stanley Cup hungry fans.