2011 NHL Playoffs: Could Mike Modano Be the Key to a Red Wings Game 6 Win?

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IMay 10, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 05:  Mike Modano #90 of the Detroit Red Wings in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on March 5, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Red Wings 5-4 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

My guess is we'll never know exactly what it was, but, there was some kind of magical substance passed around the Detroit locker room before the third period of Game 5.

Maybe it was fairy dust, or an enchanted hockey stick or some mystical tonic mixed up in a magical water bottle that every guy in the room took a pull off of.

Whatever it was, it sparked one of the most thrilling comebacks in recent Detroit Red Wings memory.

The Red Wings had no business winning that game, but they did.

Not to diminish the outstanding play of Jimmy Howard or Pavel Datsyuk, but even their epic performances don't seem to sufficiently explain how a team that appeared to be so thoroughly beaten, so late in the game could suddenly emerge victorious at the end of it.

Make no mistake about it, the Red Wings had but one "Get Out of Jail Free" card to play, and they used it in Game 5.

As they seek to extend their series against the San Jose Sharks tonight, no amount of magic or luck will help them should they play as badly as they did in the first two periods of Game 5.

To add to the drama this series already has in spades, Johan Franzen, the Red Wings long-hobbled "Mule," is going to be left in the stable tonight for Game 6.

His wonky ankle has been a painfully obvious detriment to his game and leaving him in at this point would be both cruel and unfair to the team at large.

Enter Mike Modano.

Modano's only action so far this postseason was in the series clinching Game 4 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Now, had Detroit not forced a sixth game against San Jose, Mike Modano might well have retired having played his last game in the NHL on the smiling end of the handshake line in the playoffs.

That's not a bad way to go out.

However, tonight, Modano will take to the ice facing the very real possibility that this might be the last time he ever plays hockey as an NHL player.

Should the Sharks win this game, Modano's swan song in Detroit will be made an even more bitter disappointment.

Since he missed most of the season with a severe wrist laceration, Modano never really got a chance to become a permanent fixture on this team, let alone the difference maker Ken Holland hoped he would be when he signed him over the summer.

When the playoffs started, though he was healthy, Mike Modano was a victim of Detroit's strong depth and good health as it was only Franzen's injury in Game 3 against Phoenix that got him a shot to play in Game 4 and contribute to the win with an assist.

Tonight, Modano is benefiting once again from Franzen's misfortune, and you can bet he's hoping the Wings will go 2-0 with him in the lineup.

As that magic elixir passed around in Game 5 is surely gone now, it is Modano himself that could provide the entire team with the inspiration to do the nearly impossible yet again and stave off elimination for a third-straight game.

Modano doesn't want to end his career on the short end of a hockey game, and his teammates don't want to see him go out that way either.

Though Modano's presence in Detroit to date has been largely meaningless, tonight, he has a chance to make his presence felt in a way that would make his time here utterly meaningful.

As both a point of inspiration and by utilizing his fading, though still present talents, Mike Modano might very well be the key to Detroit winning Game 6 and punching their ticket for a chance to make NHL history in Game 7 in San Jose.

Fairy dust?

A magic potion?

That stuff is long gone.

However, Detroit will have a once-powerful hockey wizard in the line up that just might have one more trick up his sleeve.

Follow Matt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MAhutter12


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