Up front, I'm going to say two things. First, we all know that this list could really be Nick Lidstrom's name repeated five times; it's just not as quantifiable or easy to show with highlights. That is, unless there's a secret society of tree-dwelling mice that holds video for all of Nick's angle-cutting maneuvers, clever stick lifts, prestine outlet passes, and all of the times that he gave a winger a brain aneurysm simply by looking at him.
Secondly, this was actually pretty difficult. I'm sure that I forgot a great game that somebody had or that you're going to disagree. A list of the best team games would be tough enough to narrow down, but multiply that by a goalie and 18 skaters* and you're bound to leave out somebody.
Multiply by 17 for games including Brett Lebda.
#5 ~ HENRIK ZETTERBERG: 2008 CONFERENCE FINALS, GAME 3
On a larger scale, if you recall, the Wings played better in this game than perhaps any other of the last decade. Think about this: Dallas actually played well and still lost, in a must-win playoff game, by three goals, at home, with the uber hot Franzen sidelined. This was the last of a nine game buzzsaw of a winning streak in which the Wings looked like they were playing with eight guys on the ice at all times.
Also consider that Pavel Datsyuk (decent player) scored his first and only hat trick, and I'm still making the case for Henrik Zetterberg to be the one most remembered for this game. The impression I was left with was even greater than his line of 1 goal / 2 assists. He had the back-breaking short handed goal at the start of the 3rd Period, which effectively put this series out of reach and Brad Richards in the hospital with two fractured ankles. And he also set up Pav for his hat trick goal after an incredible 1-against-4 display in the Dallas end, which was a Zetterberg Pantheon moment right up there with The Kill* and anytime he's been mentioned in the same sentence as Arby's.
I decided to leave out The Kill from this list because this is more about dominant games, and not "moments". Also, are these star/footnote things alright? I grow tired of using parentheses all the time. You can bet I'll be using a lot of them in my first book, "Stop Doing That, Dad. Please." which is due out Fall of 2028.
#4 ~ NICK LIDSTROM: 2002 STANLEY CUP FINALS, GAME 2
Trying to find the best Nick Lidstrom game of the decade is as hard as locating your shortest pube. I ultimately decided on this one due to the game's importance, Nick's super clutch game winning goal, his perfect feather pass to free Kris Draper, and his mind-boggling 35 minutes of ice time in a 60 minute game. I also will also blindly assume that 75% of the reason the Canes only recorded 17 shots was because of Nick. It sounds reasonable enough to me.
He was the obvious first star of the game, and this was the finest moment of his Conn Smythe-winning campaign. And my god, what a one-timer (Goal is at 4:30 mark. But if you watch the whole video you can catch Bob Cole yelling "SPREAD EAGLE".)
#3 ~ STEVE YZERMAN: 2002 QUARTERFINALS, GAME 3
Two nights earlier: The Red Wings, with the greatest non-video game roster ever, somehow lose 5-2. They're down 2 games to none to the 8th seeded Canucks. They have to go to scary ass Vancouver. Clouds parted over the top of the Ilitch mansion, God appeared in the sky with his Al MacInnis jersey on and he was doing a very inappropriate celebration dance. Or so I assumed, because none of us could understand what was happening. The Wings were one loss away from, in all likelihood, an inescapable hole that would lead to probably the greatest playoff disappointment in NHL history.
What does Steve Yzerman do? After hobbling up the stairs to get on a plane to Canada, he tells his team to calm down. He says they're going to win Game 3, and then Game 4 and eventually all will be right again. Like this is just a trip to Kroger or something.
Backing up his words, Stevie picked up a goal and an assist. He had better games statistically than this one, but few were this important or inspiring to his team. With that subtle guarantee in his teammate's minds, they went out and won the next four games as Stevie continued to wear that knee down to the bone for the next two months. And it all started with Game 3 in Vancouver.
#2 ~ DOMINIK HASEK: 2002 CONFERENCE FINALS, GAME 6
You remember this game for the Statue of Liberty Goal. It was the embodiment of abject humiliation, the funniest thing to ever take place in the Pepsi Center that didn't involve Claude Lemieux's penis, and it was probably the greatest moment of your life. I watch it before I go out in public each day because it keeps me from killing people. It's like streamed Prozac.
The star of the game, though, was at the other end of the ice. Dom only had to make 24 saves, but many of those were game-savers. A couple of them were of the "unreal" variety. After a few questionable goals allowed earlier in the series, his absolute best game as a Red Wing had to be this one. And it was. That's probably what "clutch" is, although my perception of that term is skewed after the whole Alex Rodriguez thing this past October. (I think we need a new meaning for the word "clutch" now. A-Rod ruined it. It should include the original definition of the word, but it should disqualify those with bitch tits.)
*Also clutch: Not playing with an illegal stick.
#1 ~ JOHAN FRANZEN: 2008 SEMIFINALS, GAME 4
This was the fourth installment of The Mule's ferocious romp through the Colorado Avalanche in the 2008 playoffs. It was the most impressive thing that I have ever seen from a single Red Wing in a playoff series. His nine goals in four games broke Gordie Howe's previous record for goals in a series, which dated back to 1949.
What I have yet to comprehend, though, is that he was playing with a subdural hematoma in this game, and he still managed to completely own the Avs (part of that incomprehension is due to big words like "subdural hematoma".) It was flabbergasting when we later found out about the injury. I mean blood was actually pooling between his skull and his brain. Just floating around in there. That shit is gross.
And Franzen somehow shook all of it off. It was impressive enough that he wasn't scratched -- but then he went out and put up a hat trick, in a series clinching game on the road, with the entire hockey world eying him and his torrid scoring streak. He had a power play goal, a short-hander, and what proved to be the game-winner in an 8-2 blowout. It was one of those cool moments as a sports fan when you realize you are witnessing something truly historic, which to me was the greatest individual run that I saw from a Wing in the 2000s.