I’ll admit it. I lost the faith last night. During the 2nd intermission. I felt the sweet embrace of the end growing within me. I’ve seen it before. I didn’t tweet it, or text my brother or Kills as I might normally do. It felt like last year’s Game 6 again. A brief opening flurry, watching the second period drift away. I was sure it would be followed by a brief spasm of a death rattle, before Scum cleanly and efficiently took the game, season, rivalry, bragging rights, and seemingly everything else away with them.
I should have known better. This team is made of sterner stuff. And Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo were going to be on the ice. Always a chance with that.
I figured Crow’s whiff in the 2nd would go down with Belfour’s in Game 3 in 1995 as a cold sweat nightmare I would never shake.
I didn’t feel better when Handzus tied it. All it did was fill me with the dread of yet another Red Wings suckerpunch late, something I’ve lived with for almost 20 years now. I didn’t feel any better when Bicks finally got to a loose puck in front, the pucks that have been there all series to be claimed. It just meant there was going to be a last-minute goal from someone stupid like Cleary or Abdelkader with the goalie pulled (which they actually got). Then someone would rehash the ghost of Darren Helm in 2009, and I would curse myself for ever thinking I could believe. It’s a script I’ve read more than enough.
But then Fro. And better yet, the incessant bitching about Fro’s penalty shot, which has only made it sweeter. The assured manner of Frolik’s goal was a microcosm of the swagger the Hawks brought back in the final 20 last night. While I was already preparing post mordems and eulogies, the Hawks were just as sure they were going to win. Only then did it seem real.
Yeah, there was a yippy last minute there. But in the span of 20 minutes I had gone from certainty they were done to completely convinced there was no way they’d cough it up at the death. And they didn’t.
While you never doubt a team as experienced and well-drilled as the Wings, there’s an air creeping out from them that says there’s disbelief that they took their absolute best swing last night and didn’t knock the Hawks down for the count. There’s a real question if they can muster another one against a team that won’t be leaving nearly as many openings for it now.
Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe it’ll be sweeter to have faced the abyss and turned it away, if that’s what happens. Maybe it’s not how we planned it. It won’t erase the years of dominance, or their accomplishments. But we’ve finally arrived at the point we’ve all dreamed of having since that goal in 1995. The Hawks can slay the enemy for once.
It has been harder than it should have been. But it’s here. I haven’t shied from what I feel this whole series, and I stand by my stance the Hawks blow them out of the building tomorrow. The building will be rocking from jump street. They’re going to smother the Wings blue line from the word go. Turnovers and chances will be presented. It just feels like Howard won’t be able to turn back the tidal wave this time.
I’ve said all along as the series gets longer and the sample size grows, the cracks on the back end for Detroit come into clearer relief. May I present last night as the latest example.
Yeah, Dats or Z can still come up with a moment of magic. The ice after a Stone concert and an extremely humid day could lead to many bad bounces that could lead to anything. There’s always booby traps.
But doesn’t it feel like the monster is really gasping for air with something resembling doubt creeping behind the eyes?