For this post, I'm going to do something I don't often do - take off my red and white goggles.
IMHO, this series (while bearing in mind I'm only 23 and haven't seen a lot of the "old time" hockey) was the best series I've ever seen. I'm speaking not as a Wings fan after a huge win, but rather as an objective hockey fan.
This series had it all: Phenomenal goaltending by each keeper, big hits by each side, big-time players taking over games (see: Datsyuk and Setoguchi), epic comebacks both in games and the series, and most importantly....extremely competitive play. I'm sure it's been said, but I'm going to point out again...in the series, the two teams scored the exact same number of goals: 18.
I don't think I've ever watched a series and been on the edge of my seat for almost every minute of every game. From the drop of the puck, even in game 2, the suspense was riveting. It was awesome watching guys like Helm step up, and grow up, in clutch situations. The slack needed to be picked up, and the little guys did it. The role players took turns being heroes. The veterans used all their wisdom and skill to the fullest. The superstars were....well...superstars. And Jimmy Howard was awesome.
This series could have gone either way. Home ice really was the determining factor in this one. If we play at home in game 7, we probably win. But even after all of the gut-wrenching losses, I find myself not that disappointed in this team. Well, I am disappointed in the Wings not showing up for the first 3 games of the series, but the fact that they fought back and wouldn't say no is really encouraging.
I think we can look at this season and see that the team needs to get younger. Modano, Osgood, and Draper should all hang em up. With Lidstrom, I'm still on the fence. With those three guys gone, you can bring in guys like Mursak and Emmerton and Tatar and infuse some youth and speed to the team. Those guys have proven they have what it takes to play at the NHL level, and it should be exciting to see the line combos next year's team brings.
All of the above.....coming back from near extinction and making a series of it, players playing like the stars they are, and the young guys growing up and stepping into bigger and better roles.....leads me to be nothing but optimistic about next year. But when you're talking about the Red Wings - an organization that's made the playoffs 20 straight years - when is there a time to be anything BUT optimistic?