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Wings tie 47-year-old club record

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings celebrate a 3-2 OT win over Chicago Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. The win was the Wings' 14th straight at home, tying a club record. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – Ted Lindsay was in the house Saturday afternoon to watch a 47-year-old Red Wings’ record that he helped establish during his final NHL season come one step closer to collapsing.

For the first time since the second half of the 1964-65 season, a Wings’ team has won 14-straight games at home, doing so in thrilling fashion with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena.

“They have so many good hockey players,” replied Lindsay, when asked to compare his Wings’ team to today’s modern version.

The ironic thing about the different Wings’ rosters is that they each had similar parts with a core of aging veterans and a stingy goaltender, hell-bent on stopping the oppositions’ best snipers.

At the end of his legendary career, a 40-year-old Lindsay returned to the Wings after four-years of retirement for one last NHL season. It was in 1964 and the Wings weren’t expected to be very good. But they would eventually do something that hadn’t been done in Detroit – until Saturday.

Lindsay wasn’t the only graying cast member on the Wings’ roster at the time – with Gordie Howe (37), Bill Gadsby (37), Marcel Pronovost (34) and Alex Delvecchio (34) – but they also had rookie goalie Roger Crozier, who like Jimmy Howard this season, was outstanding.

“They picked us for fifth or six place in a six-team league that year. People weren’t too impressed about us,” Lindsay said. “But we had a great goaltender in Roger Crozier, and after we went around the league twice, we ended up in first-place and should have won the Stanley Cup that year, but lost to Chicago in the seventh game. And had we beat them we would have played Montreal and we owned Montreal that year, because we beat them out for the (regular-season) championship.”

The ’64-65 team began the second half of the season on an incredible home roll at Olympia Stadium, winning 14 straight while dominating opponents by a 72-23 scoring advantage.

This year’s squad is now 17-2-1 at home, including 14 consecutive wins. During the streak, the Wings have outscored teams 62-21, while posting three shutouts and three one-goal victories. They are 12-of-52 on the power play (23.1 percent) and 39-of-47 on the penalty kill (83 percent) during the streak.

“I think experience helps, and I think solid goaltending really helps, and Howie has been that for us,” said 41-year-old Nicklas Lidstrom, when asked about the current streak. “He’s been that solid guy for us on the back end, just playing so well for us game after game. And experience at home when you do that you can be a little bit more aggressive and we’ve been successful at doing that do.”

The Wings have been a model of consistency at home during the streak, especially Howard.

“We've been really consistent in here. Points are at a premium here and you need to get them every single night,” said Howard, who made 25 saves Saturday in earning his league-best 26th win. “We've been playing really well at home, now we got to find a way to take it on the road with us.”

The Wings are 11-13-0 away from The Joe.

“Our game was a defensive game and now-a-days it’s offense,” Lindsay said. “But what I don’t understand why they don’t do the same thing on the road, because they put the same equipment on the same bunch of guys and there are no fans in the stands that are going to do any fighting for you. The same guys are on the ice that you have to fight at home and on the road. But sometimes I watch them, it’s mental lapses on the road.”

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall agreed with the legend’s observations.

“A lot of times on the road we're not starting off well and we're chasing teams from behind,” Kronwall said. “It takes a lot of energy out of you. We need to make sure to play a lot better on the road to have future success down the road.”

When asked about tying the club record, coach Mike Babcock said, “That’s good, eh? Somebody told me that was going to be a record or tie a record or something and I thought, ‘We’ve had a few of those before and we always seem to screw that one
up,’ so it was good we got it this time.”

The Wings won 13 straight home games in Babcock’s second season as coach before losing to Edmonton in a shoot-out on Feb. 23, 2007.

Detroit will go for a franchise-best 15th straight home win when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Monday evening.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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