This isn’t the first time they have had to prepare for a Game 3 after losing the first two games of the series. And the veteran members of the Wings are trying to use that experience to better themselves prior to a pivotal Game 3 of their series with the San Jose Sharks Wednesday.
“It’s really simple: just win one game,” said four-time Stanley Cup winner Kris Draper. “That’s what our mindset is, just go out, lay everything on the line tonight. I think when you lose two, you realize you just want to be a little bit better. If each player is a little bit better, then the team is going to be that much better, and you’re going to put yourself in the situation to win the hockey game.”
Detroit is 12-11 all-time in a Game 3 after beginning a playoff series in a 0-2 hole. The Wings know the statistics are not in their favor at this point in the Western Conference semifinals – they hold a 5-21 all-time mark in series where they drop the first two games.
Draper, Nicklas Lidstrom
, Tomas Holmstrom
, and Pavel Datsyuk
were members of the Wings’ roster last time they came back from the two-game hole. In 2002, the top-seeded Wings lost the first two games – at home – to the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round of the playoffs.
“One thing I’ll never forget is that we landed in Vancouver, and there were brooms,” Draper said. “There were 40 or 50 cars following our bus to the hotel, everyone walked off the bus and ‘Draper sucks’, ‘Hasek sucks’, ‘Shanahan sucks’, you know.”
The Vancouver fans didn’t bother the Wings, who rallied to win both away games by a combined score of 7-3. Detroit won four straight games to advance to the second round.
“The next thing you know, we won Game 3, and the crowd wasn’t nearly as big at the hotel, and then we came back in Game 4 and there really wasn’t too many people there at all. We came back for Game 6, and it was pretty quiet. It certainly did give us a big boost, and those are things certainly we can draw upon.”
The comeback against Vancouver propelled the Wings to their 10th Stanley Cup 17 games later. The veteran Wings are trying to share the lessons learned from that season with their younger teammates.
“That’s the good thing about this locker room, the experience we’ve had in different situations,” Draper said. “We’ve responded, we’ve played well, and we’ve done some good things. Now it’s up to us to do that again. We believe in one another, we believe in ourselves, and I know guys are looking forward to getting this going (Wednesday) night.”
Draper said that the Wings have also tried to learn from being on the opposite end of a team coming back from a two-game deficit. The memory of losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 Stanley Cup finals is still fresh in the minds of the Wings.
“You look at Pittsburgh, they were down two-nothing, came back and won the Stanley Cup,” Draper said. “Things like that, it happens. You really believe it. Three-nothing, obviously that’s a whole other ball game. Obviously there’s a reason why it’s happened I believe only four times in sports, because it is a big hole. That’s why there’s importance - huge importance - and huge emphasis on winning Game 3, and if we do that, we put ourselves in the series, and we go from there.”