Thirty-five to 5. The five Game Sweep. Henne to Manningham. There are certain events in Detroit and Michigan sports history that when brought up in conversation, there’s no reason to mention the team, season, or details. Fans just know.
Add “23 Straight” to the pantheon.
The Detroit Red Wings have gone on the single most dominant home winning streak in the history of hockey, beating the previous mark of 21 straight victories set by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins, and again by the 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers.
The Red Wings began the season 3-2-1 at home before beginning the streak. At the time, they had 11 points with 11 games played, which put them in 12th place in the conference. The incredible streak, combined with a 15-16-1 away record, has earned the Red Wings the most points in the NHL. It has Detroit fans dreaming about a 12th Stanley Cup championship for Detroit.
Unfortunately the streak ended last night with a 4-3 shootout defeat to the Vancouver Canucks. Still, the Red Wings have 11 home games remaining, including games against the St. Louis Blues who currently sit fourth in the Western Conference, and rival Chicago Blackhawks twice. If the Wings can pull out ten wins in the remaining home games, they will tie the record for total home wins with 33, set by the 1976 Flyers.
The Red Wings have been winning despite the absence of All Star Goalie Jimmy Howard, who had been out since Feb. 2 due to a broken finger. He has been replaced by Joey MacDonald, who was called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins after Howard’s injury. MacDonald has posted an incredible .934 save percentage.
The Red Wings’ chances of keeping the streak alive will be hampered by the loss of veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk, who will be out at least two weeks after a minor knee surgery. Datsyuk leads the Wings with 59 points, 43 of which come off assists. With the trade deadline looming, the Red Wings will be looking for someone to replace Datsyuk’s production until he returns. Datsyuk should be healthy for the playoffs.
While regular season performance isn’t always an indicator of playoff success, the win streak provides Wings fans with confidence going into the post-season. The Wings are on track to win the President’s Trophy for the team with the most points, and will take advantage of the home-ice advantage that goes along with it. If the Red Wings can maintain home dominance throughout the playoffs, a Stanley Cup championship could be the result.
Detroit has been provided with a number of great sports a moment over the past year, and the streak has certainly been among the most exciting. Hopefully, the Red Wings can do what the Tigers and Lions could not, and translate regular season success into a championship.