At times, the Wings looked like a potential cup winner. But, for every great moment, there seemed to be another moment where the Wings played like the Oilers.
It is easy to panic during moments like these. Easy to blame Holland for signing Samuelsson two summers ago. Easy to blame Franzen for disappearing during the second half of the season. Easy to blame Nyquist for going quiet during the playoffs. Easy to blame Howard for all of our failures.
Are some of the statements valid? Somewhat. Holland has mismanaged our cap at times, but a lot of that has been in retrospect. Franzen and Nyquist did nothing to aid the Wings playoff effort, but can we pin our season on the shoulder's of those two?
As for Jimmy Howard. All I can say is, go ahead, play Jonas Gustavsson for a full season and tell me who is the best netminder on this team.
The Bruins are a much better team than the Red Wings.
There, I said it. The team that ended up top in the NHL in points is a lot better than a team that barely made the playoffs. Sure, they may not play a style of hockey that we appreciate. They dive more than Michael Phelps, and they are not the cleanest team in the world.
But it worked. Their chippy play won them a Presidents Trophy this season, and now this playoff series. And they will surely be vying for the Stanley Cup in June.
Say what you will about Franzen's and Nyquist's play, about the rookie mistakes, and about our goaltending, but we needed a miracle to win this series. And this year, it didn't seem that the hockey gods were on our side.
The fact that we even made the playoffs was one of the most improbable feats in Red Wings history. The injuries that battered this team this season nearly ended our streak of 23 straight playoff appearances. But thanks to the play of rookies and other young players such as Nyquist, Tatar, and Glendening, we were able to hold on.
And think about all of the great moments that we experienced this season. The Winter Classic and the two alumni games will be things that we will always remember. It was the Wings' first season in the new Eastern Conference. For me, this meant the ability to go see the Wings when they played in South Florida.
We had that incredible night in March when Nicklas Lidström finally received his ultimate reward. We saw ten of our players go over to Sochi and play for Olympic Gold for their respective countries. And we experienced Gustav Nyquist emerge as a young superstar in the NHL.
Years from now, when Zetterberg's jersey is in the rafters, and a couple more cups are associated with our name, we will look back at this season in admiration.
How could a team with so many injuries to such important players possibly do as well as we did?
And we are bashing this team for playing poorly and losing to the Bruins in the playoffs? We gave Boston a run for their money. We were not swept. And it was not like the 5-game loss to Nashville in 2011. The Bruins may have always looked comfortable in their lead, but the Wings never gave up. And I am proud about that.
Will we get better? Sure we will. I am already excited about the possibilities of next season. If the Wings can remain reasonably healthy, the team should be able to compete with the Bruins for the top place in the Atlantic division. Having Nyquist, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Howard playing the majority of the season is something that I look forward to.
Rather than bash the Wings for failing to beat the Bruins, how about we celebrate our incredible season.
It was a season like no other. For good and for bad.
A season that will remain in our hearts and our minds for a lifetime.