Detroit Red Wings closing in on 2016 NHL playoffs, upholding historic mantle

It’s that simple. After a very big shutout win last night over the Flyers in Detroit, the Red Wings go on the road tonight in Boston with the opportunity to extend the longest active playoff streak in all of professional sports.

playoffstreak

The Bruins, Flyers, and Red Wings are fighting for the Eastern Conference’s two remaining playoff spots. Detroit and Boston each have two games left, including one against each other, while Philadelphia has three games remaining. The Eastern Conference standings currently look like this:   Continue reading

Does Blackhawks jersey ban violate the First Amendment? (via ABA Journal)

Chicago Blackhawks fans who are lucky enough to snag tickets for the Stanley Cup Finals at the Amalie Arena in Tampa will be barred from wearing team apparel if their seats are in exclusive club seating areas.

The policy, along with another restricting ticket purchases to credit cards associated with Florida zip codes, is raising hackles among Blackhawks fans. The ban on team apparel is also raising First Amendment issues, according to Florida International University law professor Howard Wasserman, who spoke with the Chicago Tribune.

Amalie Stadium is publicly owned and the First Amendment would apply to its actions, Wasserman said. He sees a potential problem if the ban on Blackhawks gear applied throughout the stadium.

He notes that the ban only applies to certain sections, however. “While troubling (and stupid),” he told the Tribune in an email, “if that involves only a relatively small portion of the arena and only a relatively small part of the seats, it may be permissible. Certainly more so than a blanket ban on anyone wearing Blackhawks gear.”

(via ABA Journal)

2015 Detroit Red Wings Playoff Preview

The longest active playoff-appearance streak in American professional sports is alive and well. This is the good news in Detroit, where the Red Wings are preparing for their twenty-fourth consecutive NHL postseason. Their first-round opponent: the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The smart hockey folks predicted a very bad hockey season for the Wings, so the team should take some extra satisfaction in this postseason appearance. (They were right to project improvement by Justin Abdelkader, but less so for Luke Glendenning.) Their reward for consistently above-average production all season long was third place in the Atlantic Division, one spot behind their first-round opponents in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning, who got the better of Detroit in their four meetings this season, present a difficult challenge for the Red Wings.

Two areas where Detroit would seem to have an advantage, goaltending and powerplay scoring, may be mitigated by external factors. April is a bad time to host an internal goaltending competition, but neither of the team’s two primary options, Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek, has been able to carry the load to the satisfaction of coach Mike Babcock, who today announced that Mrazek will start game one. A question mark in net is not part of a winning playoff formula, but this is part of the hand these Red Wings have been dealt.

The powerplay advantage is nice, but powerplay opportunities are at their lowest in at least the last seventeen seasons, which means Detroit is likely to have fewer chances to leverage this advantage, particularly in the playoffs, where penalties already are reduced.

Detroit still has some of the best veteran and young players in the sport, as I was fortunate enough to witness in two wins against top teams (Nashville and St. Louis) this season. By my count, they had a .500 record against other playoff teams this season. They will be underdogs in this round and likely any others to which they advance, but if their defense can hold up, they have a fair shot of doing so.

There’s nothing like playoff hockey – enjoy!