Jim Adams: How are we going to live with Red Wings fans now?
He is the prototype of the Detroit Red Wing fan. Shane Peters is brash. At times, he is abrasive. He is in-your-face when the subject is Detroit hockey.
He walks into a road arena as the typical Wing fan … as if he owns the place. As with most, Peters will root a bit louder in visiting arenas.
Although he hails today from Fullerton, he is a native of Warren, Michigan. On this night, he may act more like he is from Detroit’s inner-city. At games, he will search out his fellow Red Wing minions. It is as if they have an actual fraternity. They are, by far, the most obnoxious fans in the league.
They follow their team everywhere. They wear their colors proudly, applaud fiercely, and have no problem being as outspoken as possible … especially on the road.
Tonight, Peters and Friends can finally sleep. After several days of restless pacing and idle suicidal threats, the spoils belong to the clan of Red Wings aficionados. The Stanley Cup is theirs … one and all. The season-long journey in which Detroit boasted the best regular season NHL record, culminated in a 3-2 victory Wednesday night as they froze hockey’s oldest arena, The Igloo, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Six was the loneliest number for the Red Wings foes in the playoffs. The Nashville Predators were dispatched in six. The Dallas Stars were eliminated in six. Finally, the Penguins fell in six. All three of those series were settled on the road. Detroit, like their fans, got used to tormenting teams in their own arenas.
Sacrifice and the will to do whatever it takes are a by product of Stanley Cup Champs.
Yet, on Wednesday night it was another strong effort that brought the curtain down on this National Hockey League Season.
Detroit opened the scoring with goals in the first and second periods by Brian Rafalski and Valtteri Filppula. Although Pittsburgh countered late in the second period on a power play goal by Evgeni Malkin, Detroit owned the third period. Outshooting Pittsburgh 12-1 in the latter moments of the period, it was Henrik Zetterberg who netted the game winner. Not only did he score the pivotal tally, he left with the Conn Smythe Award for the Stanley Cup playoff’s Most Valuable Player.
This was a tournament in which the Red Wings flatly dominated. A rigorous regular season campaign in which they made their mark in a highly competitive Western Conference prepared Detroit for the 16 postseason wins that would lead them to the hockey’s Promised Land.
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, the first European Captain to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup, led standout players like Tomas Holstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg through the grind of the post season. Detroit, by far, was the best team and, as predicted in this column several weeks ago, carried that caliber of play to a successful conclusion.
Want an oddity? Detroit’s Daniel Cleary became the first player hailing from Canada’s Nova Scotia to win the Cup. His hard-nose style of play punctuated a strong third period when he dove to clear a puck from his zone, only to receive a mouth full of skate. Not to worry, he barely missed a stride, was soon patched up, and returned to be an impact player in the final stages.
Biggest disappointment? Highly touted Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin failed to show up for the Finals. He notched his first goal in the series that mattered the most in Game 6, but otherwise was largely invisible. Better days may be ahead, bet a better effort may have taken Pittsburgh to Game 7.
Sharks connection? Brad Stuart, who left the Sharks in the Joe Thornton trade of three seasons past, had an excellent series, showed up big, and played major roles in several pivotal goals.
Goaltending controversy? Not one here. After Dominik Hasek failed to perform well in the opening series versus Nashville, Chris Osgood emerged to perform with near perfection, allowing Detroit to outscore Pittsburgh 7-0 in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals.
Final Observation? The West proved its superiority to the East. Far more competitive, seven of the eight playoff teams could have competed in the Cup Finals. Most would have probably bested Pittsburgh. The East will again have its day, but the West is a highly competitive conference.
Yes, Peters and his abrasive mates may have drunk from the Cup last night. Excuse them if they arrive late to work.
It is such a long journey with so many difficult milestones. It is the Wings and their fans, all around the world, that celebrated late into the early morning. As Joe Louis Arena remains silent, the Stanley Cup will surely soon adorn the streets of Hockeytown, USA.
Our hats are off to the Detroit Red Wings. They paid the price and took the Cup in six.
Jim Adams, lives in Nevada City, is a regular contributor to The Union, a broadcaster for TouchDown Productions. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Despite high winds with numerous heat race cancellations on Saturday, the Reno STIHL National Championship Air Races concluded five days of racing on Sunday with the following Gold Championships in six of its seven classes