The Detroit Red Wings hope to get a welcome boost tonight against Boston when their captain, Henrik Zetterberg, returns to action after missing the last two months due to back surgery. The Wings are down 2-1 to the President's Trophy winners and can sure use the help. The Detroit youngsters have been excellent down the stretch of the regular season but, in the last two games they have struggled against the juggernaut that is the Boston Bruins. It remains to be seen if Zetterberg is fit to play. His playoff beard certainly is.



During the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs, Ken Morrow, Clark Gillies and a few other of the New York Islanders let their beards grow and wouldn't shave until their cup run had ended. That year, and for the next four seasons, they would be Stanley Cup champions. During that span they won an incomprehensible 19 straight playoff rounds (still a record today).

Though their decision to let the fuzz grow didn't create much reaction at the time, it has since become a tradition. So let's make this Throwback Thursday with a picture from the Islanders glory days...



Some season highlights...

With all the injuries the Red Wings suffered this season it's nothing short of spectacular what the team pulled off. Making the playoffs for the 23rd straight year with a roster consisting mostly of young players from The Grand Rapid Griffins.

“We have a lot of young kids, and they just play,” Holland said. “They make some mistakes. They don’t really look at the scoreboard, which is a good thing and a bad thing. When you are up by a couple, you wish we would play a little safer. But the reason that they are fun to watch is, they just play.” - Ken Holland

I also think Mike Babcock deserves to win the Jack Adams award for coach of the year. He was forced to completely reshape the way Detroit plays the game to suit this young and inexperienced team. And the result speaks for it self.



Even though the Detroit Red Wings lost in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the point they earned was all they needed to secure a playoff berth. The 23rd straight. The Wings haven't missed the playoffs since the 1989-90 season. It is the longest active playoff streak of any of the four North American major professional sports leagues (NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB).
The Boston Bruins hold the record for the longest playoff streak in franchise history making the cut from 1967-68 through to 1995-96 (29 seasons). So only six more seasons to go...



Will the first order of business be to bring back the jersey? Let's hope so.



This lockout -- I'm sure there will be plenty more of them to come over the years -- is fuelled by greed and it won't be solved until both sides can agree to share 50-50 on hockey-related revenue. In other words, I'm not very optimistic about this lockout ending any time soon.

TSN's Bob McKenzie wrote eloquently in his blog: JEOPARDY! THE NHL LABOUR STRIFE EDITION

As always, there were lots of comments on Bob's thoughts about the lockout. I particularly liked this one by penssince91:

NHL Hockey is an escape. When I was a kid I'd get stacks of books from the library on all of the old time legends like Orr, Mikita, Esposito, Dryden, Rocket Richard, Plante, Howe, Sawchuck, etc..and learn about these guys. Books written by Canadians to capture the imagination of Canadian youth of an older generation, yet still performing that same role years later on impressionable young hockey fans-in-the-making such as myself. I began reading on all of the greats when I was 9 or 10 and started collecting hockey cards soon after. I didn't care what their book value was. I was a student of the history of the game. When things weren't always great at home, I'd delve into my collection, match up players, create teams, and go outside and pretend I was a whole team, no matter what the season. Sometimes I could be 2 whole teams. I was east vs west, campbell conference, vs wales conference, Canada vs US..I was Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull, Jagr, Yzerman, Ron Francis, Trottier, Gretzky..I was Al MacInnis firing a bomber (tennis ball) off the side of the shed and I was Tom Barrasso (with the baseball glove still on while shooting)..coming up with the big save. If I was ever having trouble at school, if anyone gave me a hard time..hockey became my escape. It was my way of reaching into other worlds with the knowledge and passion I'd developed for the game. It garnered me new friends and was a wonderful distraction and that's the type of kid out there that I feel sorry for in all of this. The kid who goes home from a tough day at school or who goes home to a rough home life and is in need of a real distraction. And this is something that has played out for generations of Canadian kids.. NHL hockey has become a beacon for kids who rely on it. Its easy to say, 'find something else'..but its not that easy. Give the kids back their sport. Hockey is their friend. NHL players know this very well. End this lockout.