It was almost the same old thing for the Red Wings on Tuesday night, with sticks flailing and the puck bouncing and fans cringing and a win threatening to vanish just like that.
Yet, as Red Wings general manager Ken Holland reminded me moments after the horn sounded, heading to the dressing room after his team's 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena, this was nothing like the same, old game they used to play with their one-time rivals.
No, Holland said, "This is the new NHL."
And in this league, every last point is going to count. So most nights, that means every last minute will, too, whether you're up or down, out in front or bringing up the rear. Truth is, just about everybody's stuck in the middle now, and it shows.
"A win puts us in a playoff spot, a loss takes us out of a playoff spot," Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said, shrugging and smiling as he nodded to the already-outdated league standings scribbled on a white board in the team's dressing room. "That's just how it's gonna be."
If they didn't understand that a month ago, they certainly do now. And just as their fans have realized these aren't the Wings of the past, the Wings appear to have realized the same thing. Which is a good thing, at least if you're worried about that playoff streak of theirs.
Because gone are the days when this team routinely outshoots opponents by a 2-to-1 margin, dominating the league's lesser teams on its way to a 100-point season. Instead, it's the Wings talking about learning to play a "simple game" and relying on a hot goaltender to bail them out when they don't play one well enough.
Wings make point by securing 2 in parity-primed playoff race
Detroit News | Mar 6