The launch of SB Nation United has come with posts across the network of hockey blogs listing their best prospect, most hated team and how to get a hockey fix while this pointless lockout continues.
My personal favourite posts have been the biggest/best/worst bloopers in a team's history. I like this for the pure schadenfreude that these posts elicit, especially when it's either a rival's blog or something that involved the Red Wings.
For me, bloopers are things that are supposed to make me laugh. And nothing makes me laugh more than seeing an opponent screw something up that benefits the Wings. Especially when it's in the playoffs.
Taking them in chronological order (and because I enjoy saving the best for last), the first clip we'll check out is Esa Tikkanen missing a wide open net in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. If you want to read the Washington side of that event, head on over to the ever-amazing Japer's Rink. Here, instead of wondering "what if", we get to laugh and remember that everything went our way.
A little context: with the Capitals leading Game 2 by a score of 4-3 midway through the third period, Tikkanen picked up a loose puck and raced in all alone on Chris Osgood. After pulling a nice deke, he had a wide open net to salt the game away and.....shot wide. Let's go to the video:
The Wings would go on to tie the game and win it on a Kris Draper goal in overtime in what was easily the most exciting game of the Finals.
Esa Tikkanen was a trash talking pest of the highest order, the kind of guy that you loved to have on your team and hated as an opponent. The only person that would have been a better player to have this happen to would be Claude, but Tikkanen is a nice consolation. My favourite part is when he starts to celebrate a nanosecond before he realizes that he missed the entire net.
Fast forward 4 years, and the we're back in the playoffs, this time as a President's Trophy winner against an upstart Vancouver Canucks team. The Canucks had taken the first 2 games at the Joe and were playing the Wings tough in Game 3.
Enter Nick Lidstrom and new Canucks goaltending coach Dan Cloutier. TPH strides across the blue line, hits center and rips a slapshot. Within a second, the series completely changed.
I'm not super familiar with Cloutier, but I would hazard a guess that this shot effectively ruined his career. It's certainly what he is known for among Wing fans, and that shot shifted every single ounce of momentum back to Detroit's side. Between the deflated Canucks and Steve Yzerman's brilliance, the Wings won the next 4 and catapulted themselves into the third round (because the 2nd round was against the Blues which is always just a formality).
The Conference Finals that year was the final series in the Avs-Wings rivalry. The Avs had won Game 5 on a Peter Forsberg OT goal and were a game away from eliminating Detroit and going to the Finals. The Wings had to go to Denver and get a win there to send it back to the Joe for Game 7. Going up against a world class goalie like Patrick Roy, the Wings needed not only their best effort but a little luck to advance.
Thankfully neither was necessary, because the arrogance of Roy would be all the Wings need. In the second period of a scoreless game, Yzerman had a great chance in front to put the Wings up, but Roy was able to come up with the save. In showing everyone what a brilliant save it was, he neglected to verify that the puck was indeed in his glove.
There are two things that tickle me about this video. One, it's that knowing that the entire world got to see Roy be a jackass and it come back to bite him in the worst possible way. Second, it's the hindsight that this would be the first of 8 straight goals he would give up to the Wings as Detroit demolished Colorado and waltzed to their 3rd Cup in 6 years.
And just because I'm having fun laughing at the Avs, let's re-live Game 7: