Party Like It's 1997: Red Wings 4 - Flyers 3

20 straight home wins.

Oh, I know, there are some who will say that 20 wins isn't the same now as it was when the record was set. There weren't shootouts in 1929 or 1976, these people will argue. And they're right, to a degree.

But this record, which the Red Wings tied tonight with a narrow 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, is still something to be celebrated. Just because the conditions under which the record was tied are different makes it no less an achievement. If it were so easy to extend winning streaks because the shootout has existed for the last 7 years, then I would imagine more teams would have come close to what the Red Wings are doing right now. Besides, if there were no shootouts, one can't say definitively that the Wings wouldn't have won those games anyway by employing a different style (not to say they would have won either).

Just because something is different doesn't make it worse. The Red Wings are playing under the conditions of the game as they exist today; they didn't make the rules, they just have to play by them. It's the old saying: hate the game, not the player.

It certainly wasn't a foregone conclusion that the Wings were going to get to 20. A power play goal in the first period gave the Wings a lead, something they haven't enjoyed a lot of lately. However, Joey MacDonald reminded everyone that he's still a third-string goalie, and his major mental error and inability to pass the puck allowed the Flyers to score.

The second period was just goofy. Flyers score to take the lead, then the Wings tie it. The Flyers score again to take the lead, the Wings tie it. Headed in to the third, it seemed like this was anyone's game. But then the Wings remembered that during this streak, they're awesome in the third period, only allowing 7 goals. Johan Franzen finished off a magnificent tic-tac-toe passing play and the Wings held on to secure their 20th straight home victory.

Bullets after the jump.

  • Now this is what we envisioned the power play to be: the enforcer. When a team is going to take penalties, especially teams that play a physical style of game in an attempt to intimidate the Wings, the power play is what will get the opponent away from that. Going 2-5 against a good team like the Flyers (who may not have a very good defense but who can score with just about anyone) is a fantastic advantage to have.
  • The Wings got yet another goal from a defenseman when Niklas Kronwall scored his 12th of the season. For those keeping track at home, the Wings lead the NHL in goals from their blueline with 34. Getting goals from the defense adds another layer of offense to an already balanced team and makes that much more difficult to stop.
  • For as good as Joey MacDonald has been since taking over for Ty Conklin/Jimmy Howard, tonight wasn't his greatest game. The Wings bailed him out after a horrible turnover on the first goal, but he made a few key saves in the third period with the team holding on to the lead.
  • The final 5-6 minutes of the game reminded me a lot of 2008. A ferocious forecheck and simple unwillingness to allow Philadelphia to possess the puck were staples of that team, and we saw it on display tonight while the Wings tried to close out the win.
  • The depth of the Wings has carried them the past week or so, but tonight the stars put on their big boy pants and led the way. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Franzen all scored goals, and when those 3 are contributing offensively, this team is as good as anyone in the league. It's especially nice to see Z getting on the scoresheet after struggling all season. I'm 1 game away from being ready to declare him 100% cured of his scoring problems.
Whether the haters and critics want to admit it, the Wings now own a share of history (drink!) with the Bruins and Flyers, and will have a chance to break the record on Tuesday against Dallas. Puck drop is at 7:30 ET as always, and if you're like me, then you're hoping that they break the record by playing a fantastic game and then winning in a shootout.
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