“Why not us?”
As rough as the ending to Game 3 might have been, Jimmy Howard said it best.
“Other teams have done it before, not only in hockey but in other sports,” Howard said. “Like I was telling everyone else, we’ve got to have the mentality of ‘why not us?”
Teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit before. Heck, it almost happened a week ago to the top seed in the Western Conference, against a team that backed into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. It just takes the right idiot. Someone too ignorant to read the papers, watch TV, or listen to what the talking heads are saying.
“Why not us?”
Then a sophomore at Boston College, Patrick Eaves was at Fenway Park for Game 3 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, a game that saw the New York Yankees take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Boston Red Sox with a 19-8 thrashing of the home team.
He’s been there. He knows what our fans are going through right now.
“Even in the crowd it was like, ‘oh, what is going on here’, but they were able to capitalize on the opportunity to create something great,” Eaves said. “They went on to win the series and do something special for their fans.”
Jimmy Howard was still a student at the University of Maine, a Red Sox fan simply to irk off his good friends, most of whom were die-hard Yankee fans. The ‘why not us?’ mantra was the same used by Curt Schilling in that series and throughout their postseason run.
Can the Wings take a chapter from that playbook?
“You just got to go out there and do your thing,” Howard said. “Just play. It’s the beauty of sports because anything really can happen.
On the night of Game 4 of that 2004 ALCS, a little used infielder named Kevin Millar gave his team a motivational spark with his attitude, not just his play. He was the loose, if not uber-loose, leader of a merry brand of self-dubbed ‘idiots’. And between Millar, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, you couldn’t tell if the Red Sox were down 3-0, or up 3-0. They were almost too dumb to know any better, or as one writer asked Mike Babcock during his press conference this afternoon, they had the right case of ‘selective amnesia.’
“If there is a group of idiots that can do it, it’s us,” Millar told a Boston writer before Game 4.
He went on …
“Don’t let us win Game 4, because in Game 5 they get Pedy (Pedro Martinez), Game 6 is (Curt) Schilling and in Game 7, anything can happen.”
Now that statement is the stuff of legend, like when Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl, or when Mark Messier said his team would win Game 6 at the Meadowlands back in 1994.
As for the fans in Boston, most had thrown in the towel. In all my years of attending games at Fenway Park, there was no cheaper ticket than Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series. Upon buying a $125 ticket on the street for $20, I called my friend at Northeastern and implored him to join me.
“I don’t want to see my team get swept,” he said.
I’ve never let him forget it.
Why shouldn’t the Red Wings believe they can win four games in a row? Any athlete should have that mentality coming to the rink. After all, the Wings swept the Phoenix Coyotes out of the playoffs less than a month ago.
It has been done before. It will be done again. Whether that is the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, who came back from 3-0 against the Boston Bruins, or the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
“Just being around the atmosphere from going to school there, you see some of the lessons from that team and try and play off of it,” Howard said.
That starts with a loose team and one win. If wishful thinking prevails and we’re playing a Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena, things will really get crazy.
“You take it one game at a time,” Eaves said. “Win the next one and we’ll go from there.”
Just don’t let the Wings win on Friday.