Is This Real Life? Red Wings 2 - Blackhawks 0 (Wings Lead 3-1)

Gregory Shamus

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I've tended to be pessimistic when it comes to sports. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst" is my motto, and it's served me well. I love my teams and want them to win with every fiber of my being, but I find it hard to silence the little voice in the back of my head (which sounds vaguely like my grade school bully) telling me that it's all going to go to shit.

Tonight was one of those nights, and I'll freely admit that the voice in my head was shouting "THEY'RE GOING TO LOSE" at me for most of the day. I tried to stifle it with basement renovations and alcohol, but throughout the entire game all I could hear was this taunting. Maybe I should see a doctor.....

The Red Wings won again and they are one game away from the Western Conference Finals. If you thought this series would be 3-1 Red Wings, you're either psychic or a liar (which is the same thing), so put your damn hands down about "I knew this would happen" because you didn't. No one did. And that's not bad, because the Blackhawks are a damn good team and the Wings were not for most of this season, so thinking they were going to lose isn't the same as not believing they can't win.

But let's be clear here: the Wings haven't won anything yet. Mike Babcock has said over and over that it's not a best-of-7, it's a race-to-4, and the Wings are 75% there. This team has already exceeded the expectations of every single expert that proclaimed the Wings dead before the series began and shoveled dirt on their rotten corpses after Game 1. Suddenly it's like a bad B-movie out there with the Wings coming back from the dead to shock the hell out of all of us. Do they have another win in them? I'm not going to worry about that right now. I'm too happy that they're playing so well.

I had a bunch of bullets for tonight, but quite honestly most of them were pretty boring and I couldn't make them interesting. Instead, let's run down what I got out of this game:

Jimmy Howard is a boss, and I wish that people who were ripping him 3 months ago (hell, 3 weeks ago) are drinking their own urine as penance for being 100% wrong about him.

Ditto for Mike Babcock. What he's doing to Joel Quenneville in this series is illegal in 15 states. He's not just stealing Q's lunch money, he's picking him up, taking him to the cafeteria, turning him upside down, shaking him until all his change falls out of his pockets, makes him pick up any coins that fell on the floor, and then forcing Q to feed him delicious cafeteria french fries with gravy.

Can you imagine the look on Ian White's face when he saw Brendan Smith take the puck off his knee, only to realize that Smith came back? That would be like wrapping up underwear to look like a pony to give to a kid.

I'm not going to slag on Jonathan Toews and his penalties tonight: I'll leave that to all of you.

The Wings ended the Hawks' PK streak with Jakub Kindl scoring. I don't have a witty comment about that. It's just something wonderful that happened.

Is this what cheering for an underdog feels like? There's stress and anxiety and vomit-inducing fear, but at the end of the day there's a realization that this is all fun because the underdog isn't supposed to win. Perhaps my favorite part of all of this is that the Wings aren't playing perfect hockey, but they're finding a way to win despite everything indicating they shouldn't be doing so.

The Wings haven't won anything yet except 3 games in a best-of-7 series. The Blackhawks are more than capable of ripping off 3 straight wins, so until this series says "Wings Win 4-?" I'm not going to proclaim this series over. I'm just proud of what this team has accomplished and I don't want the ride to end.

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