Originally posted: May 12, 2009Just say no to the Red Wings
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Listen up, Blackhawks fans: Stop asking for Detroit. Stop asking for the Hawks to meet the abominable Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.
I know we’re all giddy from the Hawks’ inspiring accomplishments in scratching that seven-year playoff itch.
I know we’re drunk with enthusiasm over the way the Hawks came back time and again -- and that was just in the chaotic victory over Vancouver in Game 6 on Monday night that closed Canada for the 2009 postseason.
I know we’re carrying on as if Patrick The Hat Trick and Jonny T. Good are the Gretzky and Messier of our times, but sober up, people.
Asking for the dreaded Wings is asking for trouble.
I understand the thinking, believe me. If you love tradition and have a good hate working, then, gawd, yes, bring on the evil Wings.
If you love going old school with a couple Original Six teams to decide who gets to play for hockey’s Holy Grail, then, sure, bring on the vexing Wings.
If you somehow think it’s fitting or more satisfying or somesuch romantic cliche, then fine, bring on the abombinable Wings.
But if you’re smart, then you want Anaheim.
I’m not demeaning the Ducks here. They’re only two summers removed from their own Cup championship, but wise up, people. You don’t get style points for beating a team with a better record. You don’t earn extra credit for beating a team with a better pedigree. You don’t pick up a Get Out of Jail Free card for beating a defending champion.
You simply win or lose. You advance or cry.
They only remember the champ. Nobody cares about the path. It’s who, not how.
It’s easy to wrap yourself in the precociousness of the young Hawks. It’s invigorating to vicariously live the audacity of the kids who’ve committed to Denis Savard’s Indian. So, you talk big about wanting a shootout at the Joe Louis corral.
Stop, OK? Just stop. The truth is, the Ducks are the lesser team. That’s who you want.
Look, the beastly Wings are defending champions. Wipe the long-standing hate from your eyes and show a little respect for that.
The villainous Wings have won four Cups going back to 1997. The Hawks have won only three Cups in their history. In. Their. History.
Since the diabolic Wings started winning their four Cups again 12 years ago, the Hawks have won only two playoff series -- series, not Cups, do you hear me? -- and both of them came in the last month.
The Wings are a playoff-savvy team. The Hawks need a treat parent.
If you get the gruesome Wings, you lose many of the things that benefitted the Hawks in the first two rounds.
As long as Nicklas Lidstrom is in uniform, the Hawks won’t have the best defenseman on the ice the way they seemed to every shift through the first two rounds. Against Anaheim, I’d put Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and the new-look Brian Campbell up against Chris Pronger and the Niedermayer of your choice.
Whatever Dustin Byfuglien is learning to do in front of the net, Detroit annoyance Tomas Homstrom has made a career out of.
There’s this Johan Franzen guy who’s 6 foot, 3 inches and weighs 220 pounds and plays all over the forward line, and oh by the way, he’s Detroit’s leading playoff scorer. He has more points than Henrik Zetterberg, who along with Pavel Datsyuk, always seem to clinically destroy the Hawks.
That’s the thing about the Wings as a team. They’re clinical. They aren’t prone to doing the dumb things that Calgary and Vancouver pulled in the first two rounds. They aren’t likely to give the Hawks the extra power-play chances that Vancouver dropped in their laps in the last two games. (Vancouver’s Shane O’Brien has to get some votes as Hawks MVP.)
The Wings also are so poised and disciplined that they won’t let the Hawks get away with some of the mistakes that Calgary and Vancouver couldn’t take advantage of.
No question, the Hawks could beat the Wings. The Hawks could beat anybody. That’s the beauty and thrill of hockey. That’s why the Stanley Cup playoffs are so much better than the NBA. The outcome is in doubt in the NHL -- talk about a novel concept -- and the last minute of the game doesn’t take four hours as it bores us to death with fouls and free throws and fouls and free throws.
But anyway, the Hawks have the skill, speed and depth to beat the agonizing Wings. They certainly have more skill, speed and depth than the Wings have seen so far in the playoffs.
The Hawks also have a series-changing goalie, a Cup-winning goalie, in Nikolai Khabibulin. Anaheim has its Cup-winning goalie on the bench.
Interestingly, for all the wonderful things that Joel Quenneville has done with a young team, for all his strategic expertise, he would be the least decorated coach to face the Wings. Columbus’ Ken Hitchcock and Anaheim’s Randy Carlyle each won Cups as the guy behind the bench. Quenneville has jewelry as an assistant coach, but hasn’t guided his own team into a final.
You don’t want the pernicious Wings.
Of course, you really don’t want the Ducks, either. I mean, if you could choose, you’d want the Avalanche or the Islanders. But unfortunately, the rules don’t allow you to drag a cruddy team out of the NHL’s version of Lower Wacker and play them for the right to play for the Stanley Cup.
If you get the Ducks, there’s a better chance that more good things happen for the Hawks.
One thing that happens for sure is that the Hawks would get home-ice advantage. I realize the Hawks are a terrific road team, but you saw Game 6 on Monday, right? You heard or felt the anthem, right? You heard or felt the third period, right?
You’re telling me you’d rather face a team with a better record in their building in a Game 7 than in the United Thunderdome. Hel-lo?
Emotion and passion are wonderful parts of sports, especially in the playoffs, where everything is magnified, and that includes the big talk and the bravado. Thing is, you can’t lead with your heart. You have to use your brain.
The Ducks are your brain. The Wings are your brain on drugs.http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribu ... wings.html