The Most Important Game was the last game of the regular season. If the Red Wings didn’t win that one, they might not have made the playoffs. But they did — and they did.

So The Most Important Game was behind them, right?

Then came the playoffs, and the opener against Anaheim, a Most Important Game because it set the tone.

The Wings lost, so Game 2 became The Most Important Game, because you don’t want to fall behind, two games to none, to a No. 2 seed.

When the Wings won that showdown — in dramatic overtime fashion — Game 3 became The Most Important Game, because you didn’t want to give back home-ice advantage.

And when Game 3 was lost, Game 4 took the mantle, because if you lose that one, you could be eliminated the next night.

Once the Wings tied the series — again in overtime — then Game 5 was The Most Important Game, because it was a best-of-three series now.

And when the Wings lost that one — again in overtime — well, it’s obvious. Game 6 was The Most Important, because lose and you’re out.

Same for Game 7.

And then came Chicago.
The Western Conference semifinals ...

Game 1 was critical because the Wings had to prove they weren’t pushovers for the mighty Blackhawks. They lost, 4-1.

So Game 2 was critical, because you’re not going to win four out of five from the No. 1 seed, right?

But when the Wings stunned Chicago in the United Center, Game 3 became The Most Important, because you don’t want to give back what you so bravely earned.

And now comes tonight, Game 4. If the Wings win, they’d have a stranglehold on the series, three chances to win one. But if they lose, all that hard work, all that stellar play, brings them right back to where they started — dead even, with home ice in Chicago’s favor.

Which makes this The Most … well, you know.

“The playoffs are always about the next game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock told the media. “We have a huge game next game.”

A huge game. The biggest game. Momentum isn’t a pendulum anymore, it’s a wrecking ball. It smashes through walls. Everything is the biggest thing, the most important development.

I was starting to feel good about the Wings’ chances, but there has been so much in the last two days — about how good they actually are, how they’re getting in Chicago’s heads, how they’re shutting down Jonathan Toews — that it just seems inevitable Chicago will swing back, reverse the trend, and we’ll be taking a whole new story come Friday.

About Game 5.

The Most Important Game of The Series.