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Detroit Red Wings Can't Win Playoff OT Games At Home...Shhh

Greg Eno@@GregEnoSenior Analyst IMay 4, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 03:  Todd Merchant #22 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates his game winning goal in the third overtime with Rob Niedermayer #44 to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 3, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The overwhelming trend continues.

The Red Wings, for as mighty as they’ve been for the past 20+ years, have a dirty little secret, about to be outed right here, right now. There are a few of you who know about this secret, but none of you are employed by the mainstream media, because those folks don’t appear to be clued in.

The Red Wings don’t win home playoff games in overtime.

Quick amendment: they rarely do–for there have been exceptions.

This tendency began way back in 1984, when the team made the post-season in Steve Yzerman’s rookie season.

The first round series were best-of-five back then. And the Red Wings split the first two games in St. Louis.

In Detroit over the weekend, though, the Blues won a double OT game on Saturday and a single OT game on Sunday. End of series.

There’ve been plenty more examples–only some of which I will now list.

Game Five in 1988’s first round against Toronto, when current NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk beat the Red Wings, playing for Toronto.

A crucial Game Four loss to Edmonton in 1988’s conference finals. Jari Kurri, I believe, was the Oilers’ hero.

Games Five AND Seven in 1993’s first round against Toronto.

Game One of the 1996 conference finals against Colorado, courtesy Mike Keane.

Game Five of the 2002 conference finals against Colorado, courtesy Joe Sakic.

Game One of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals against Carolina, thanks to Ronnie Francis.

Game Five of the 2007 conference finals against Anaheim, after a gruesome turnover by Andreas Lilja.

Game Five of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals against Pittsburgh, off the stick of Petr Sykora.

Game Two of the 2009 conference semi-finals against Anaheim.

As I said, there’ve been some OT wins at home–and big ones.

Game Five of the 1995 conference finals over Chicago, which ended the series and sent the Red Wings to the Cup Finals.

Game Seven of the 1996 conference semi-finals over St. Louis–Steve Yzerman’s double OT slapper from the blue line.

Game Two of the 1998 Cup Finals over Washington–only one of the most thrilling playoff games in Red Wings history.

But the losses far outweigh the wins–at home.

On the road, the Red Wings acquit themselves much better in playoff overtimes.

It’s a strange phenomenon, one that I don’t think anyone can really explain.

But I’ve been aware of this aggravation since the mid-1990s, and that’s why I never want to see a playoff game at Joe Louis Arena head into overtime.

I had the same sentiment yesterday–and Friday, but Nick Lidstrom took care of that with 49.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

Sunday, Lidstrom, or anyone else for that matter, wasn’t able to ride to the rescue before Game Two against the Ducks oozed into overtime.

That’s it, I thought. The Red Wings, not the Ducks, will be cooked.

Sadly, I was right–despite the overwhelming pressure the Red Wings put on the Ducks and goalie Jonas Hiller in the extra sessions.

That’s never really been the problem at the Joe for the Red Wings in playoff OTs. They bring the pressure. They just can’t seem to finish with the same degree of success as the visitors.

Typically, it’s been an aging veteran who’s done them in, too. Another oddity.

Sunday it was Todd Marchant, who was eerily interviewed by NBC in the intermission between the second and third OTs. So blame the network, if you’d like.

The trend is maddening–all these overtime playoff losses at home–because you can’t really shake your fist at anything and declare that the reason for all the failure.

It’s probably just a statistical oddity, nothing more.

So whenever the Red Wings go into overtime on the road, I’m much more comfy. Though they’ve lost a few that way, too. But only a few.

Of course, if the Red Wings go into overtime in Anaheim, there may be few of us who’ll actually witness the ending, thanks to the late west coast start times.

I remember 1997, when Brendan Shanahan ended a game in Anaheim at around 3:30 in the morning. Moments before, I said I’d be going to bed, whether the game was over or not. And that’s not like me.

Then Shanny found the puck in a scrum inside the crease, and jammed it home.

I went to bed, happy.

The Red Wings, I say, will win their second straight Stanley Cup, yesterday’s loss notwithstanding. But beware the overtime games at home.

Those’ll get ‘em, almost every time.

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