When the Detroit Red Wings open the playoffs on Wednesday, they’ll do it in an unfamiliar location — on the road.
Yes, for just the second time in 20 years, Detroit won’t begin the NHL postseason in the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena. (The last time was two years ago, when the Wings opened in Phoenix.) Instead, the series will open in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, where the Wings went 1-2 this season.
Not that any of this matters to Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
“It is a clean slate,” he told the Macomb Daily. “Everybody starts from scratch. Everybody starts at zero again with wins and losses, so that’s the same approach for our team. Now we have to get playoff ready, get into that playoff mode where you play well defensively.”
That said, it’s hard to ignore the stark contrast in Detroit’s play at home compared to on the road. The Wings set a NHL record for consecutive wins at the Joe this year, but were 17-21-3 away from it — the worst road record of any playoff teams in the West Conference.
The Wings, however, don’t see traveling to Nashville as a major issue. They’re actually pretty pleased to do that rather than fly cross-country.
“I think when you get into series two and three, not that we’re looking ahead, but it pays off to be able to be only an hour away or whatever it is,” Brad Stuart said. “You’re not going back and forth across the country because that does wear you down. You can say it doesn’t but it does. So it’s nice we don’t have to do that right off the bat.”
“We almost had to go to the West Coast so it’s nice to get short travel,” Henrik Zetterberg added. “We didn’t want to lose (Saturday) and have a chance to go to the West Coast.”