Detroit Red Wings: 5 Great Playoff Goals to Reminisce About
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When Detroit makes the playoffs in less than a month, it will mark the 20th consecutive year in which they have reached the playoffs.
That is good for the longest active streak in any professional sport.
Of course, some may argue, that it is easier to get into the playoffs in hockey than say the NFL or the MLB because of the number of teams it allows in to the playoffs.
But the Red Wings have not only been making the playoffs, they have been worse than second in their division over that span.
The past two decades of Detroit Red Wings playoffs games have seen their share of success such as Stanley Cups in 1997 (their first in 42 years), 1998, 2002, and most recently 2008.
They have however also seen their share of playoff woes, losing to woeful underdogs such as the '06 Oilers, '04 Flames, getting swept by the '03 Mighty Ducks, and the '01 Kings.
With the playoffs quickly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to show what I consider to be five of the best goals goals in Red Wings playoff history since 1996.
Darren McCarty on Ron Hextall, 1997 Stanely Cup
Darren McCarty pulled this beauty out of his back pocket, forever sealing his name in Red Wing's Stanley Cup Finals history
If you're not a Red Wings fan, you probably only know him for his fights, notoriously with the Colorado Avalanche.
But Darren McCarty put up 19 goals and 49 points in the 1997 season.
But in in game 4 of the Red Wings run to a Stanley Cup championship, McCarty came up big in the series clinching goal.
McCarty made a brilliant inside-outside move on Flyers defense man, Janne Niinimaa, and shoveled the puck into a half vacant cage.
McCarty's goal put Detroit up 2-0 in the game, and since they already led 3-0 in the best-of-7 series, it also put an end to any come back thoughts the Flyers had.
Brendan Shanahan on Patrick Roy, 2002 Stanley Cup Game 6
Patrick Roy ultimately cost his team the series by this foolish move
If you're a hockey fan at all, you had to know that Patrick Roy's name was going to be in this slide show more than once.
There is more history between Patrick Roy and the Detroit Red Wings than between peanut butter and jelly.
Known for this "help" in brawls between the Red Wings and his own Colorado Avalanche, Roy was one of the best of all time.
Roy led the NHL in all-time wins and shut outs until Martin Brodeur recently took the lead in those two categories.
But like some great athletes, Roy was cocky.
His glove save and ensuing "Statue of Liberty" play will live eternally in the minds of Red Wings fans as the play that started their series come back against the Avs in 2002.
With the Avs leading the series three games to two, and a chance to close out the series on home ice, Roy made a save on Steve Yzerman, but held the puck up in the air with his glove.
Many debate as to whether Roy was "hot dogging" and showing off as some say, or whether he was just trying to show the referee that he made the save.
But unknown to Roy the puck popped out of his glove and Shanahan slammed it into the open net.
Detroit would go on to defeat the Avs 2-0 in Game 6, and 7-0 in Game 7, chasing Roy in game 7.
They would also win the franchise's tenth Stanley Cup and third in six years.
Kris Draper on Olaf Kolzig, 1998 Stanley Cup Finals Game 3
Kris Draper hadn't scored all playoffs, but his Game 2 overtime winner proved to be crucial in snatching momentum for the rest of the series.
In this Stanley Cup Finals Game 2 against the Washington Capitals, Detroit out shot the Capitals 60-33, but you wouldn't know it by the 4-4 tie on the scoreboard at the end of regulation.
Enter Kris Draper.
Like Darren McCarty, Draper was known more for his roll as a physical, support player and later on the "grind line".
But Draper seemed to be everywhere he needed to be and never really out of position.
He picked a huge moment to score his first goal of the 1998 playoffs against the Washington Capitals for an overtime game winner.
This goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, helped push Detroit to a second straight Stanley Cup and a second straight sweep in a Stanley Cup Final.
Igor Larionov on Arturs Irbe, Game 3 Stanley Cup Finals 2002
Igor Larionov scores in Triple Overtime to give the Red Wings a 2-1 series lead
Igor Larionov. Arturs Irbe. Two of the most interesting people you will ever meet.
Larionov, one of the oldest players in the game in 2002, was playing in his 143rd playoff game. At 42 years old, one might expect that Larionov would have had an overtime playoff winning goal prior to this goal.
Surprisingly, this was Larionov's first overtime winner and boy was it a big one.
For the 2002 Stanley Cup, Irbe wore the same set of pads that he had used as a member of the San Jose Sharks to beat the Red Wings in the 1994 playoffs.
But it was Larionov, "The Professor", that took Irbe to school on this triple overtime, backhand winner.
At approximately 1:30 A.M. local time, Larionov ended the third longest game in NHL playoff history with his second goal of the game as he roofed a backhander over a sprawled Arturs Irbe.
Larionov's goal sent the Red Wings to a 2-1 series lead paved the way for their tenth Stanley Cup.
The Professor will forever be remembered by Red Wings fans as one of the greatest Soviets to ever play the game.
Steve Yzerman on Jon Casey, Game 7 1996 Western Conference Semifinals
Steve Yzerman sends the Red Wings to the Conference Finals on this Double Overtime Slap Shot
Steve Yzerman. Double overtime, Game 7. Need I say more?
For those of you unfamiliar with this video, you might need to watch it more than once, that's how good this goal is.
Although the Red Wings did not walk away with the Stanley Cup at the end of this playoffs, (losing to the Avalanche in 6 games) this goal is a must watch for every hockey fan.
In double overtime of a scoreless Game 7, Yzerman took a pass and walked across the blue line and unleashed this monster slap shot for the game (and series) winner.
The Red Wings were a team on the rise, and the 1997 and 1998 playoff seasons would see them be the first team to repeat since the 1980s.
Nicklas Lidstrom, on his way to the Hockey Hall of FAme, leads another Red Wings team poised to make another run at Lord Stanley's Cup
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There are of course many more great Red Wings playoff goals that did not get showcased in this slide show. The 2008 campaign did not even get touched, but that is nothing against that team.
There is a lot of history in this storied franchise, and in the playoffs, the Red Wings always seem to find someone to step up to the plate to provide them with a big goal at an opportune time.
Detroit has been a deep talented team for the better part of the past two decades, and that is why one must wonder how far in the playoffs the Red Wings will go this year.
They have been very close in the two playoff seasons; losing in game 7 in 2009 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and last year out in the second round to the Sharks.
This post-season promises to be better with the current team that they have built.
The likes of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Franzen, and Rafalski all remain potent offensive threats, but it is the depth players like Helm, Eaves, and Bertuzzi that I really see making a difference in this year's playoffs.