This piece would’ve started with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, but my good friend Marshall beat me to the punch on that one when talking about college basketball and now I’m stuck finding a good holiday-based pun to describe my favorite sports-related time of the year.
Something about a turkey? No. That’s football. Uh, America’s pastime? Crap – that’s baseball. I’ll just cut to the chase.
As you are reading this, we are one week into the wonderful, wild (not of the Minnesota variety), and wacky world of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s a time where one team can go from President’s Trophy winners to losing in the first round of the playoffs (I’m looking at you, 2011-2012 Vancouver Canucks). Where last year’s Stanley Cup Champions can miss the playoffs entirely, as was the case with the Los Angeles Kings. Where one team can even reach the playoffs 24 years in a row.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this column you’ll know that the team I’m referring to is the Detroit Red Wings.
When this team started their playoff streak in 1991, the President was George Herbert Walker Bush, The top grossing film was Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Temple of the Dog (y’know, that one bad that was Pearl Jam before Pearl Jam but had the guy from Soundgarden as a singer also?) was trying to steal bread and not minding it.
As further comparison, back in 1991 Bob Daniels was in his fifth year as an assistant here at Ferris and former Ferris goaltender from 2008-12 Taylor Nelson was still in diapers.
After the season the Wings had last year, I would not have assumed that they would have made it to 24 consecutive years, but here we are in April with a much more optimistic approach to their season.
In my untrained professional armchair opinion, much of the team’s success stems from former Grand Rapids Griffin Petr Mrazek, who stepped up when starter Jimmy Howard was injured.
Mrazek’s record was 1-1, with a 3.00 GAA and .868 save percentage. Now, what about Howard? Well, he had the better save percentage at .918, but, his record was 0-1-1 with a 2.43 GAA. Now, obviously not all of the Wings fortune came from just Mrazek.
Offensively, Mrazek’s Calder Cup winning teammates Tatar and Nyquist have made up a bulk of the team’s scoring, both serving up 29 and 27 goals respectively. This makes them the top goal scorers on the team. This however is no match for Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos’ 43 goals.
According to NHL.com, the Wings have the statistical advantage. Yet, according to the Detroit Free Press, most if not all, hockey writers across the board are predicting the Lightning to win.
What do all these fancy stats mean? Honestly, I haven’t a clue. All I know is that this series will come down to Game 7, and hopefully the Winged Wheel will be moving into that second playoff round.