I've been in a surprisingly good mood today. There is absolutely no explanation for this. It's theoretically possible that my little Bob-Seger-and-Dire-Straits-fest before work this morning helped me chill out, but I like to think that it had more to do with wearing a Wings t-shirt under my work polo. To make things even better, miracle of miracles, my manager took pity on my and told me that I didn't have to work tonight. I can only interpret this as divine intervention on the part of the Hockey Gods. So at least I have that going for me. Maybe my begging and pleading is paying off.
Work this morning was actually a blessing because otherwise I would've spent hours sitting in front of my computer refreshing the Snapshots blog until I gave myself carpal tunnel. I didn't even care that the place was absolutely dead, and I made no money. If nothing else, it kept my mind off of Game 5 tonight and kept my stress levels somewhat in check.
Until one of my evil, evil co-workers decided to play a nasty trick on me, that is. He's a Carolina Hurricanes' fan (yeah, I didn't realize they existed either until I met him), and he's been giving me crap about the Wings since the start of the playoffs. This was totally uncalled for, since I didn't even give him a hard time when Carolina lost, figuring that the mere fact that he was a Canes' fan was enough punishment for one lifetime. He decided that it would be fun to run up to me and tell me that Datsyuk was officially out for the rest of the series. And then my heart stopped. I'm not even kidding. At least that's what I imagine having your heart stop would feel like. And I would've believed him until he told me that Lidstrom and Zetterberg were also out. At that point, I threw something at him and told him that we were no longer friends. If I had actually died right there, they would've had charge him with manslaughter for intentionally causing me to have a heart attack. He would've sold me on the Datsyuk front, at least until I had time to text a friend for confirmation, but he tried to take it too far, and I saw through it.
In actual news, it's sounding pretty certain that Datsyuk will, in fact, be back. It goes without saying, but this is a very good thing. However, I'm holding my joy back until I actually see him on the ice after the puck drops. You can fool me once, Pavel and Mike, but I'm not that gullible. So we'll see.
On the other hand, neither Dan Cleary nor Brian Rafalski took the morning skate, and this is troubling. I know Rafalski didn't skate the other day and was still good to play, but it's still not particularly good news. I'd even go so far as to speculate that it played a role in him getting beaten on Staal's shorthanded goal. All we know of Cleary's issue is that it's being called a "lower body injury." So really, that could mean anything from a separated shoulder to herpes. The Wings need him going full-tilt too, and tonight would be a fantastic time for him to re-ignite that little scoring bonanza he had going during the Western Conference Finals.
Over the last couple of days, I've been informed by nearly every media source that Gary Bettman's dream has, in fact, come true, and his Little Buddy is all but assured the Stanley Cup. This might terrify a normal person, or a fan of another team. But over the course of my fandom, I've noticed that the Wings tend to play their best hockey when their backs are against the walls. I think they thrive on being counted out. I think Mike Babcock makes them sit down and read every single word written by the naysayers. In Games 1 and 2, when everybody assumed they were done for without Datsyuk and with such a short break before the back-to-back games, they came out and got the job done. After they went up 2-0 and everyone switched around and said that they had it all but locked up, they proceeded to play like a peewee team. So now here we are, exactly where we were a week ago, except for now it's a best of three instead of a best of seven series. Pretty much everybody is expecting the Wings to go down like the Titanic. But my boys? They're not ready to let go. They get their jollies by proving that they can do things that nobody else believes they can do. Kind of like how I enjoy proving that I can lift heavy things and open jars even though people assume that a short little girl like me is helpless.
The bottom line is that the Wings are capable of winning with or without him, if everybody steps up and performs. If they sit back and play like they did in Game 4, then getting Pav back won't make any difference at all.
Now that I'm done with this post, it's time for me to commence my pre-playoff game ritual of cowering in a fetal position hugging my Steve Yzerman jersey and 2008 rally rag like security blankets. I'm tossing around the idea of pulling out all of the considerable amount of Red Wings clothing items I own and burying myself in them until game time. I understand that this is pathetic; that it's not normal. But it is what it is, and it's the only thing that gets me through the day during the playoffs.