Quick, if I were to say you should never count this team out in the playoffs, which team comes to your mind?
If you said the Detroit Red Wings then congratulations, you have managed to correctly identify the team most often associated with that label. Also, you’re an idiot.
That may seem harsh, but it’s true. Why should the Red Wings be allowed to retain such a moniker? Why shouldn’t it fall to a team like Pittsburgh or Chicago?
The reasoning used by many defenders of the Wings is the experience on the team. They point to the amount of players on the team who have made long playoff runs and won Stanley Cups. In one sense they are correct, there is a large number of players on the Wings who have won a Stanley Cup. However, there are also a large amount of players on the Blackhawks and Penguins who have a ring of their own. That’s because it hasn’t been that long since they won a Cup. Detroit won in 2008, Pittsburgh in 2009, Chicago in 2010.
Now the reason people don’t talk about never counting out the Penguins and Blackhawks is simple: since their respective cups, the teams haven’t proved much. Since 2009, the Penguins have one exit in the second-round of the playoffs and two first-round losses. Since 2010, the Blackhawks have two first-round exits.
But wait, you say, that can’t possibly be true of the Wings. Those guys are clutch in the playoffs.
Since their Cup in 2008, and subsequent final in 2009, they have two second-round playoff exits and one first-round exit. That’s not as bad as the Hawks and Pens, they have one more second-round than the Pens and two more than the Hawks, but really it is. Their two first-round wins came over the Phoenix Coyotes and their two second-round losses came to the San Jose Sharks. The Coyotes are by no means an easy team to beat, but they are a team that, prior to this year, had never won a playoff series. The Sharks are a good team, their regular season record proves that, but they are also the biggest playoff chokers in recent memory. Talent aside, if you are considered the most clutch playoff team in the league shouldn’t you be beating the team considered to be the least clutch.
Now I do understand why people keep picking the Red Wings to be contenders year in and year out. They have a very impressive run of playoff appearances. But then again, the St. Louis Blues didn’t miss the playoffs at all from 1980-2004 and they were never considered to be favorites year after year. What the Red Wings did have was three Cups in the the eight years prior to the lockout and if you were asking me if the Wings should be considered favorites year in year out prior to 2004-2005, I would say yes. But that was a different time. The parity that exists now did not exist then.
I’m not saying that the won’t win another Cup in the near future, anything can happen in the new NHL. What I am saying is that the era of them being Cup favorites heading into the playoffs every year regardless of regular season record or recent playoff history is over.
And it’s never coming back.