Friday, May 9, 2008

Detroit Red Wings - Wherefore Art Thou Fans?

While last night was text book example of how a team can get caught on their heels and not recover I have to say how interesting it was to see so many empty seats at Joe Louis Arena. Cheap seats, Expensive seats – Did not matter. Empty clusters and Half-empty rows were scattered throughout as if this was “just another Detroit game.

I thought for a moment I was watching a Nashville game. Did anyone put the word out that Detroit is known around the league as “Hockeytown, USA” where every seat should be filled, after all … these are the conference finals, the bridge to the championship, the last push for that beloved battle to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup. Maybe it was because they are playing against Dallas, a team that hasn't been here for the playoffs in 10 years, when Detroit knocked them out of the Conference Finals in 6 games. Also, maybe because they are playing against a goalie that has yet to add a tick mark to the Win column when playing against Detroit. Even IF those are all true – Why would you still not pack the arena during the Conference Finals to show your team (Hockeytowns Team) that they have fans behind them? Is it because this is what you have come to expect from your team? Is it because it does not mean anything until your team is IN the Finals? Let us not forget the Month of February where your team went 4-8-2 being outscored in that month 28-38.

So what's the problem, I know the economy is bad and I am not telling people to go farther into debt for a Hockey game … but seriously, we're not talking 100,000 seats to fill at Joe Louis either. I would want to think there are enough fans and money in Hockeytown to fill those empty seats. Come on - if Detroit can fill Lions seats, why can’t they fill Red Wings seats.

Some great hockey is being played this year and this post season has given us games that will be relived for many years to come. Ever since Game 5 against Nashville, the Wings have been a different team. Grinding, hitting and hat-tricking. They haven't lost in three weeks. They look tight and enthused. They've gotten production from their stars and their supporting cast. They're protecting the puck and they're getting an enormous boost from Osgood, the goalie. This is the combination every great Stanley Cup winner possesses – The stars of the team shine, the supporting players back them up and before you know it, your lifting the Cup with tears running down your face … because since your 4th birthday when you were given those “New Skates” … THIS is the moment you have dreamed of.

If you missed last nights game, here's my quick wrap up. The Wings started off the night with too many opportunities. They got a 5-on-3 chance less than five minutes in. Nine seconds later, they scored -- a beautiful ricochet slapper by Brian Rafalski. How about Franzen, redirecting a puck for his 12th playoff goal and his fifth straight playoff game with a score -- tying a team record held by, ahem, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. Even captain Nicklas Lidstrom said, when asked to evaluate the seven-game winning streak "It's comparable to some of the great teams (we've had).”

I still don’t think you can pin this win soley on the stellar game Detroit brought to the table. Dallas did not even show up, I think they were caught off guard early in the first period and never recovered. It looked, to me, as if the Stars were watching the puck to much and standing around waiting for something to happen. Well, Marty did the best he could … after all, I would assume knowing your playing in an arena where you are 0-8-2 might do something to your confidence. That is where the 5 guys in front of him have to say … Not Our Goalie!

I am excited about the Philly/Pittsburgh matchup tonight and I will wait to see how the Stars answer back in Game 2 before I cast my judgment.

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