The Detroit Red Wings are about to enter into their fourth game against the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoff series and for the first time, number 7 seed Detroit has the upper hand against the number 1 seed Blackhawks. The Wings have always been a team with a performance of a roller coaster, so how long will the power streak last? Could the Wings possibly carry this advantage onward and defeat the number one seed?
The most important advantage leading into tonight’s game is Detroit’s home field advantage at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings lead the series with a 2 to 1 win against Chicago and so it can only be predicted that those who “Octupi Detroit” will come into the second home game pumping more energy into the blood stream of Hockeytown than any prior game in the 2013 season.
Detroit not only has the fan base that drives opponents up-the-wall, but possesses the skills a Stanley Cup winning team needs; ambition. The team that entered into the Playoffs as the 7th seed underdog is starting to show that a bark may pierce the ear, but a bite will pierce the ego.
The clearest way to explain the Red Wings ascending endurance is by looking a little more closely at previous games between Detroit and the Chicago Blackhawks.
The first game, The Blackhawks destroyed with a 4 to 1 win. Detroit’s previous teammate Marian Hossa scored the first game goal for the Blackhawks which gave the Chicago team the upper hand early into the game and set the standard for what was to come for the 2nd round series in the playoffs. Damien Brunner was able to make a rebound shot from Gustav Nyquist’s blocked shot, leading the teams to be tied going into first intermission. Second period was a no score, all war period. Detroit’s Kyle Quincy started out with a holding on Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and Justin Abdelkader brute behavior lead the two to have a total of four penalties for slashing and roughing, and Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall was penalized for tripping Hossa.
All the energy spent on playing dirty and getting penalties created a great loss of ice time for Detroit, and assisted in Chicago’s advantage on the ice. Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger and P. Sharp were able to place three more goals behind Jimmy Howard in the span of the third period. This left the Blackhawks with a 1-0 win in the series against the Red Wings.
Going into game two,
the Blackhawks had the greater advantage. Their spot as number 1 seed gave them the favor in the series, the game was in Chicago’s United Center, and the fact they won the previous game gave them the leading standing in the 2nd round.
In the first minutes of the game, P. Sharp, Michal Handzus played a game of pass the puck to Patrick Kane, where Kane placed the puck into the back of J. Howard’s net and once again set an incredibly high target for the Red Wings to reach. As tension and frustration increased amongst the players, sportsmanship quickly decreased. Detroit’s Brendan Smith was penalized for the hooking of M. Hossa and within minutes, an epic brawl between D. Bolland and Jakub Kindl forced penalties of slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct.
If the Red Wings wanted the opportunity to head to the Stanley Cup, then their strategy would need to quickly change. Up until the second period of the second game, the Wings had been incredibly lacking on the defensive side. J. Howard was faced with many one-on-one opportunities against opponents, or with awkward moments like Jonathan Ericsson accidentally kicking the puck into the Wings net during Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks.
At the start of the second period, defensemen soon developed a strategy of becoming the offense. Detroit’s defensemen J. Kindl and B. Smith shot the Wings to a 2-1 lead. Into the third, the Wings were able to score with Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula, making the Red Wings final outcome a win of 4 to 1.
Teams head north
to Joe Louis Arena, where the Hockeytown blood pumps. The fans are crazy, the arena’s sound system is the loudest, and an Octopus a game is the norm. The consistent howl of the incredible fanbase haunts any opponent to step onto the Arena’s ice. Those who occupy Detroit can easily see why the Red Wings slogan is Octupi Detroit. For the first time, the Red Wings gained an advantage over the Blackhawks.
Rowdiness came from every which way in the arena. Joakim Andersson being penalized for a fight with Andrew Shaw. Shaw being penalized for roughing with Kyle Quincy. Bryan Bickell and Quincy break into a fight, causing for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Wings rough play and thick shield of fans energy caused the Blackhawks to lose sight of the game, and fall deep into the waters of the Chicago-degrading Octupi who live in Detroit. By the third period, the Blackhawks began to put their energy towards rough housing, leading the Wings to win 3 to 1.
At the end of the regular season, the Wings fought to even make it into the playoffs. The team that had 21 consecutive years making it into the playoffs was on a fight for the number 8 seed against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After incredible final games, the Red Wings were able to make it past Columbus and the Minnesota Wild to claim the number 7 seed.
Entering the playoffs, the number 2 seed Ducks and Red Wings fought back and forth until the end. And on the pursuit for the Cup, the Wings took over the ice and won game 7. It was a rough road for the Wings, and things would only get more rough entering into the series with the Blackhawks.
However, as the playoffs have progressed, young Red Wings like G. Nyquist, Cory Emmerton and Brendan Smith have become more mature with more strategic playmaking, while Veterans such as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrick Zetterberg, and N. Kronwall have taken the initiative to dominate in defense and keep the pucks on the Blackhawks ice.
It’s a long road ahead, but at the rate the wings have been playing, the team may Octupi themselves all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks fourth game will take place at Joe Louis Arena at 8 PM this evening.
For coverage on this event and more, follow Megan Shire on twitter @NextMeganShire.