I’m not worried the fires will die out between the fans and the franchises. Look at the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics in the NBA. They only face one another twice a season, yet the rivalry is as legendary as ever.
Who knows? Someday we may see Chicago and Detroit rekindle the rivalry in the Stanley Cup Finals. But it’s best to focus on the here and now, because there’s plenty of unfinished business between them.
The Red Wings protected home ice last night and beat the Blackhawks, 3-1 in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series. Given the magical, albeit shortened, regular season enjoyed by Chicago—24 consecutive games this season with a point scored, Presidents Trophy, home ice throughout the playoffs—their fans are a little tense and a lot disappointed in seeing them down in a series against the hated Red Wings.
As a Red Wings fan, I have the same advice for both sets of fans: chill. out. This series, this playoff is a long way from its conclusion. More so than in any of the other major sports, home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup playoffs really doesn’t amount to much of an edge. Last season, for example, the Los Angeles Kings were a No. 8 seed and won the Stanley Cup. In fact, they took out the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, who were the Presidents’ Trophy winners.
In fact, it’s been five years since the Presidents’ Trophy winners have also claimed the NHL championship. Who was that? The Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
History lesson notwithstanding, the real lesson is it takes four wins to win a series, 16 wins to win a Stanley Cup. Obviously, you’d rather be the team at 2-1 right now than the reverse. But this series between Original Six rivals is far from over. If Chicago wins Game 4, the pressure is back on Detroit to win on the road. Again.
Truth be told, I’ve always believed you have to be able to win twice on the road in a best-of-seven series when you’re the underdog. They way Jimmy Howard is standing on his head in goal for the Wings, they could do it. But the Blackhawks are fast, deep and powerful. They peppered Howard in Game 1. I expect them to come firing on Thursday. But if Detroit can protect home ice in Game 4, it would force Chicago into a very daunting corner. They would have to win three consecutive games. If anyone can do it, it’s Chicago.
Stay tuned. Game 4 is Thursday night at 8 p.m. Should be a hot one at the Joe.