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Current, past players see Wings' streak as special

by Brian Hedger /
DETROIT -- It's become a topic of discussion on sports radio and television shows the past couple days and has gotten the attention of fans and media alike.

The Detroit Red Wings have won 20 straight games at Joe Louis Arena this season and are now tied with the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers for the NHL record. They also have a chance to set a new mark on Tuesday night when the Dallas Stars play in the Motor City, but all people seem to care about is whether the streak is legitimate enough to recognize without an asterisk.


Because there was no overtime or shootout in the 1970s when the Flyers of old accomplished the feat -- and there wasn't a shootout to end games back in the '20s and '30s when the Bruins did it. There was, however, overtime when Boston did it -- and the Bruins prevailed twice in the 10-minute OT period that wasn't decided by sudden death.

Regardless, players past and present are coming out in support of what the Red Wings have already accomplished by tying the other two teams.

"I think it's truly amazing," Dallas forward Steve Ott said on Tuesday. "Anytime a record's broken, or tied or even in the same characteristic of any other record, it's special. I think if you talk to Wayne Gretzky about Sam Gagner (8-point game), he'd tell you it's pretty amazing in this age. The players are a lot [more] similar. The teams are a lot [more] similar. That parity … it's so much closer than it was back in the '80s or the '70s, or even the '90s for that fact."

Those factors alone, Ott said, make Detroit's feat this season every bit as impressive as the Bruins and Flyers of years past.

"It's a new era, a new game and the guys are so well-versed on physical strength and mental strength,” Ott said. "There's so many different methods of preparation -- video preparation. So much has changed over the years. That's a phenomenal feat to win 20 straight home games."

The Red Wings agree. They're also starting to take issue a little bit with people who insinuate their streak is somehow cheapened by three of their wins coming in the shootout and a fourth in overtime.

"You still have to win the games," said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who also mentioned the increasing parity in the League brought on by the hard salary cap coming out of the work stoppage. "You still have to win, whether it's in overtime or a shootout. You still have to win it. You can easily lose it, too."

And the Red Wings haven't since Nov. 3 against Calgary, a span of 103 days. It's impressive to players all around the League, even if people in the media or fans try to belittle it.

"To do it now, in a League where there's so much parity and so many games are so even, to me makes it show even more how hard it is," Stars forward Adam Burish said. "Yeah, those games did go to overtime, because teams are so much harder to beat now. They're in overtime and that makes it even harder, because a lot of times you get a back-to-back and have to play the next night. It's as impressive a record as it was back in the 1970s, and maybe even harder to do."

Hall of Famer Ray Bourque agrees.

"It's not an easy thing to do in the game at this point in time, to win that many games in a row at home with the parity in the League," he said, when asked about the Red Wings' streak. "They've made teams think when they come into their building, there's very little chance they're leaving with a win."

That's why the Red Wings are pleased with what they've already accomplished and will be gunning for the top spot on Tuesday night. They haven't spent a lot of time doting on the streak until lately, when asked about it every day, but now that they have it the naysayers don't upset them at all.

"Nothing we can do about the rules," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "We still [won] 20 games at home in a row, so we're happy. We're proud of it. We're not thinking that much about shootout wins. If [critics] want to think that way, they can do that. We are pretty happy about the streak. If we win the next one, no one has done that."
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