Well it's now April 8th and the playoff race in the NHL's Western Conference has been decided. I remember yakking on and on earlier in the season about the dubious nature of the Red Wings play before the Olympic break, and how the quiet, but building, undertone was of the playoff streak ending. Many sports writers stated that if any team needed the Olympic break to get healthy and get their heads together, it was Detroit. More profetic words have been spoken throughout history, but these were right on the money.
Since the return of the regular season at the start of March, the winged-wheel has become a machine once again. Reeling off win streak after win streak and becoming the hottest team in the league. Rookie stalward goalie Jimmy Howard has been lights out, and looks like the phenom of the year. The Red Wings offensive power has found it's traction again, and is hitting the net. A mistake prone and sloppy defense over the first several months of the season has began to gel. While Lidstrom won't get the Norris, nor will Datsyuk or Zetterburg get a scoring title, the Wings are back.
They've locked up their 19th consecutive playoff spot, a current record amongst ALL the four major league sports. At the moment they're tied with Nashville for the 5th seed in the West with 98 points. With two games on the regular season schedule remaining, it looks like they may retain the 5th seed and control some form of their destiny.
To me, the year is already a success. A Phoenix from the ashes of an abysmal first half from which I openly stated that they might very well miss the playoffs, or worse; finish sub .500. If we get swept in the first round, yeah it'll be very dissapointing. However, the alternative would have been even more embarrassing. We could have ended up like the Tigers of last year. Full of potential, only to fall a fingernail short, as close as close can get. But, not good enough.
Hockey fans in Michigan lets break out the octopi and face paint, and dig the trenches. We've gotten hot at the right time, let's hope they can hit that playoff gear and make a deep run. I will sit down to a big helping of crow all weekend and just enjoy the games.