The Detroit Red Wings: A legendary and memorable playoff streak

There’s Slava Kozlov beating Ed Belfour five-hole to advance Detroit to the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. There’s Darren McCarty dangling past Janne Niinimaa to score the 1997 Stanley Cup winning goal. Don’t forget Steve Yzerman’s blast in double overtime of Game 7 of the 1996 Western Conference Semi-Finals to bury St. Louis.

The Detroit Red Wings’ unprecedented 23-year playoff streak is the stuff of legend, and something that isn’t likely to be repeated any time soon. Throughout the streak, Red Wings fans have been treated to several ups, but a share of downs as well.

Nobody could forget the heartbreak following Nikolai Borschevsky’s Game 7 overtime goal completing Toronto’s upset of the heavily favored Red Wings. Or a young Chris Osgood’s tears in the dressing room following his error one year later in another Game 7, this time against San Jose. And of course, there will always be the infamous image of Sidney Crosby raising the Stanley Cup on Joe Louis Arena ice.

Younger Red Wings fans will never forget Dan Cleary’s game-winning goal against Anaheim in the 2009 Western Semi-Finals, or Johan Franzen’s four-goal outburst against San Jose in 2010, helping Detroit avoid a sweep. Game 4 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals against the rival Colorado Avalanche that featured several fights, including a war of words between Detroit coach Scotty Bowman and Colorado’s Marc Crawford, was a huge part of the 1997 Stanley Cup run.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs aren’t seen in Hockeytown as a rare privilege like in other NHL cities, but a yearly tradition that has yielded four Stanley Cup championships in just eleven years. The thought of the Red Wings not participating in the annual tournament is an unthinkable notion that many Detroit fans have yet to experience in their lifetime. 

This year’s edition of the team is on the verge of assuring Detroit’s 24th consecutive playoff appearance. Whether or not another championship will follow remains to be seen.


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