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Red Wings Rabbit Hole Theater: Vol.5 “Five for Fedorov” Edition

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There are 13 (!) days until the puck drops on the Red Wings 2016-17 season. Until then, lets keep ourselves cozy with a weekly visit down the Red Wings Rabbit Hole; an endless You Tube nostalgia trip you'll first love, then regret six hours later.

Sergei Fedorov

This Week’s Video: Sergei Fedorov 5 Goal Game vs. Washington Capitals 1996

Game Date: 12/26/96

Notable Nostalgic Names To Look For: Four of the Russian Five are prominent (Slava Kozlov, Igor Larionov, Vladimir Konstinov and of course Sergei), Brendan Shanahan, Jim Carey, Petr Bondra, Craig Berube, Mike Goldberg on play-by-play.

Uploader: Robert Soderlind

Cultural Significance: It was the day after Christmas 1996 (Boxing Day for our Canadian friends) and if you were like me, you spent it sorting new hockey cards into binders on your living room floor, watching PASS Sports, thinking it’d just be another mid-season Red Wings game. Instead, you got a vivid memory of one of the greatest individual performances in team history.

I firmly believe it can’t be understated how important Fedorov was to the Champion-era Red Wings. While some still want to keep the ‘97 contract hold-out and his leaving for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks against him, you’ll never be able to diminish his role on three Stanley Cup teams.

This was just one game in December but it was indicative of the era of Red Wings’ hockey and of the dominance Fedorov cast in the midst of it.

Breaking it Down Goal By Goal

Goal 1- The puck movement and cycling of the Russian Five was overwhelming. The entire time Larionov is toying with the Caps, baiting them to the right side. With a nod to Konstantinov pulling any stragglers to the slot for a screen, the two make the Capitals look foolish as Fedorov floats up high, untouched to finish with a bar down shot.

Goal 2- Fedorov’s speed down the right wing was always my favorite thing about him. He didn’t use the middle very often when he had time, often realizing he could discombobulate slower defensemen and goalies coming in on an angle. I often see Dylan Larkin try this today, and it gives me goosebumps how similar the two look when wheeling the puck up the boards.

Goal 3- All of these goals are pretty in their own way but the set up on this one is the most beautiful. First, Shanahan and Fedorov were a penalty killing unit—that’s fun to think about. Skill players on a penalty kill? Wild! Second, the passing; the two passes entering the zone were crossing backhand, between the legs, wrap around passes like it was nothing. Third, Fedorov has the confidence and positional savvy to float away from coverage—causing two Capitals to collide—as Konstantinov pinches in, only to reemerge completely open receiving an incredible pass from Vlady. The hockey the Red Wings were playing in those days was mind-blowing.

Goal 4- Larionov, in peak Professor mode, again baits all the Capitals with his supreme patience. Looking back on all these videos as an adult, I can now appreciate the patience of the Russian Five; that was probably their best asset. Fedorov sneaks in, again, so wide open, for a tap in, leaving a Washington backchecker so frustrated he literally tosses his stick away. I never noticed that until watching for this post. Also, I found it. The definitive 90’s Red Wings crowd shot:

Find me one of those black jerseys in a Doug Brown, please.

Goal 5- Mickey Redmond’s calls of these goals were so good, mainly because he had so much confidence in Fedorov and the Russian Five that he anticipated nearly all of them. The fifth one he called soon as Fedorov got open. For me, the best thing about this goal is Scotty Bowman’s reaction; smirk on face, chewing ice, subtly holding up five fingers. He knew he had the horse in Sergei and was never scared to turn him loose.

While I think majority of Wings fans have finally turned the corner, unfortunately some are still holding out and even a report persists that Mike Ilitch is still not on good terms with no.91, though its long been out of circulation. Sure, you’re entitled to hold a grudge, but get over your ex, pal. These were some incredible times and Fedorov is to thank for a lot of it.

Follow the rabbit hole in the 'recommended videos' section on You Tube and let me know what old Red Wings videos you dig up in the comment section. There’s a lot of good stuff you’ll likely find and I want to hear about it.