The two sides of being a Red Wings fan
The pessimist and the optimist have this in common -- they are both fans of the Detroit Red Wings. But there are two distinct sides to Hockeytown and these two gents live on opposite sides of the tracks.
The optimist can't wait for the playoffs to begin in two weeks. Glory awaits. The pessimist wants more time for their team to prepare. There are so many ways to fail.
The pessimist is worried that Dominik Hasek has missed so much time. His back hurt. He now has the flu. There was a hip flexor, whatever that might be. And with just five games left before the playoffs, Hasek may or may not be ready to start in goal Friday.
Put it all together and by the end of the regular season, Chris Osgood will have led Red Wing goalies in games, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and minutes played. And Chris Osgood will be sitting at the end of the bench when the first playoff puck is dropped, mask off talking with equipment manager Paul Boyer while the battle is waged.
The optimist says all of that is a good thing. Surely you didn't expect the elderly Hasek to play 70 games this season. He's rested. He's playing well. And if Hasek isn't ready to go, the Red Wings have the best No. 2 goalie in the NHL in Osgood.
The optimist adds that not only is Hasek going to be back in net soon, but Dan Cleary made his return Tuesday and soon we'll have Valtteri Filppula, Tomas Holmstrom, Brad Stuart back and Darren McCarty as well. We're good now. We'll be better then.
The pessimist will have none of that … players rushed back before they're fully healed play like injured players. And those who have been off for weeks need weeks to play at top form again. We don't have weeks. Four losses -- one week's work -- could end it all. Lord, help us. And by the way, all the news about Holmstrom is bad and that is one player you don't want to have watching when the playoff begin.
Even with Holmstrom, the pessimist thinks that the Red Wings aren't a balanced scoring team. Detroit has performed better with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line this season, despite every attempt to get a low with the two offensive stars separated. Johan Franzen might be averaging a goal per game over the past 11 contests, but surely you don't think that pace will continue in the playoffs. Then what? Over a seven-game series, any foe can figure a way to slow down a one-line team.
The optimist shakes his head. The pessimist had just answered his own question. The Red Wings do play better with Datsyuk and Zetterberg together. It's not a bad thing to have the best forward line in hockey. No one can stop that line. Add in a goal from Jiri Hudler here and a goal from Dan Cleary there … and yes, Franzen won't score a goal a game, but he will score by golly … and you've got a team with more than enough offense to win. Why does the pessimist always ignore that the Red Wings are the second highest scoring team in the NHL?
The pessimist was waiting to hear that. He likes to predict the seat-of-the-pants arguments that the optimist might make so that he'll have plenty of responses squirreled away. Preparation is essential, even though all is lost.
Second highest scoring team? That was in the regular season. Means nothing in the playoffs. And so will that Presidents' Trophy. Meaningless. No. 1 seed? Meaningless. Home-ice advantage? Meaningless. Two years ago, the top four seeds in the Western Conference lost in the first round to the bottom four seeds, including our Red Wings being bounced by Edmonton. Great regular seasons are a whole lot easier to accomplish than winning four rounds in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The optimist just smiles.
"True, but we're fans of the best hockey franchise in the world over the past 15 years," says the optimist. "How can you turn that into a bad thing?"
"We'll see what happens," says the pessimist with a wrinkled brow.
"We'll see," says the optimist with a grin.
"Want to go to lunch?"