COLUMBUS OH - JANUARY 14: Antoine Vermette #50 of the Columbus Blue Jackets beats goaltender Joey MacDonald #31 of the Detroit Red Wings for the winning goal during a shootout on January 14 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. Columbus defeated Detroit 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
The Detroit Red Wings have won 20 straight games at home, tying an NHL record. But they've used the shootout as a crutch three times in that streak, which cheapens the feat a bit, right? No, not really. It just provides perspective.
The Detroit Red Wings haven't lost a game at Joe Louis Arena since Nov. 3, and overall, they're 33-13 over that stretch. They're the best team in an NHL full of very good teams as a result of that streak, which tied an NHL record on Sunday night when the Wings held on for a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
While detractors are busy talking about the shootout, and how this only would have been a still-impressive yet hardly history-worthy 12-game streak had the Wings tied a game against Phoenix on Jan. 12, and how the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and the 1975-76 Flyers didn't have that shootout luxury when putting together their streaks, the fact of the matter is this:
Detroit won 20 games in a row at home.
Using the rules of the day, they did something that nobody has ever done under those rules, and that no team has done under any rule system since 1976. That's worth celebrating. Wings fans are doing that over at Winging It In Motown.
Just because the conditions under which the record was tied are different makes it no less an achievement. If it were so easy to extend winning streaks because the shootout has existed for the last 7 years, then I would imagine more teams would have come close to what the Red Wings are doing right now. Besides, if there were no shootouts, one can't say definitively that the Wings wouldn't have won those games anyway by employing a different style (not to say they would have won either).
All solid points. Maybe we would have seen a few more streaks in the 1980s and 1990s had the shootout been in place then, but that's something we'll never know. The chances go up, for sure, but there are so many variables mixed in that it's hard to place an exact number on it.
And of course, the Flyers and Bruins had advantages that the Red Wings do not. The Flyers won games against the Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts during that streak, teams that combined for 23 wins that year. As Puck Daddy points out in a story titled "Shut up about asterisks and Red Wings' NHL home record chase," the Bruins didn't even have to travel any further West than Chicago during that 1929-30 season.
It's all about perspective. There's value in pointing out that yes, the Red Wings used the shootout in compiling their impressive win streak. The Flyers beat some awful teams, and the Bruins had just two trips outside of the Eastern Time Zone when they put together their streak.
(Both trips were to Chicago, by the way, two of three total trips West to play the Black Hawks that season. They lost all three, and they only lost six of 44 games all year. Perhaps travel was tougher in 1930 than in 2012.)
Discussing the differences in the game over time is both fascinating and important to understanding the game in today's context. We shouldn't "shut up" about asterisks for just that reason, just as we should continue to applaud the impressive streak the Red Wings are in the midst of putting together.