Igor Larionov and the Statue of Liberty can sit this one out. These are the most underrated Wings goals of the 2000s -- or in other words, five goals that I have somehow arrogantly determined you aren't remembering enough. That's what "most underrated" is, right? Whatever. It was a good excuse to dig through old hockey videos instead of going to sleep.
#5 ~ BRETT HULL'S 700th GOAL
I seem to have blocked out how the 2003 season ended, but something important occurred before all of that. Brett Hull scored a huge milestone goal, in a Wings uniform, at Joe Louis Arena. This happened. I swear it did. I'm telling myself this because I never talk about Brett Hull, a guy who I will always think of as a Blue despite winning a Cup in Detroit and having what was probably a pretty underrated Red Wings career: 92 goals in three seasons between the age of 37 to 39, including a team-leading 10 goals in the 2002 playoffs.
A small handful of players have scored 700. Think of that number. That is a stupid number of goals. And that was the last that you're are going to see 700 goals from an NHL player for a considerably long time.
When he was inducted into the Hall last week, did any of the 950 Red Wings bloggers (including myself here) say anything about Brett? I mean ANYTHING? Even a little side note sandwiched between all of the Stevie slobber? Probably not, but even a tiny bit of recognition would've been better than none. So here it is, a week late.
#4 ~ 2007 CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS, GAME 4: ROBERT LANG
The goal is automatically underrated because there isn't a single Wings fan who wants to remember anything about Robert Lang. Even the people who say they liked him have a little Lang voodoo doll in their closet that they pee on each morning.
Regardless, this was a huge moment. The Wings hadn't done anything in the playoffs since winning the Cup in '02 despite icing their usual loaded lineups. They escaped one potential disaster in the first round, but here they were less than a minute away from going down 3 games to 1 to the Sharks, which likely would've resulted in another earlier-than-expected playoff exit.
After watching the video I still can't believe they won this game. Down two goals and Homer scores with 4 seconds to go in the 2nd period; down one goal and Lang scores with 30 seconds left; and then they pull it off in OT. One of my favorite games of the decade.
(Lang scores at the 2:25 mark)
#3 ~ 2002 CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS, GAME 4: STEVE YZERMAN
You remember the game before this one, in which Nick Lidstrom scored the Least Underrated Goal maybe ever -- the center ice bomb that people cannot speak of without mentioning the words "momentum", "Cloutier" and "adkf;adj;ksdadff".
The next game, however, the Canucks didn't just wilt up and die. From the USA Today's recap ....
"Mattias Ohlund and Matt Cooke each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks, who outshot the Wings 24-15 .... Unlike Game 3, it was the Canucks who came out flying, creating big hits and a handful of scoring chances off the forecheck during their first three shifts."
It wasn't easy by any stretch. When I think about watching those two games in Vancouver, I remember how legitimately scared I was, sitting in my room with the lights off and my 13" TV on, trying not to wake the entire neighborhood. The Wings had done half the job in Game 3, but losing Game 4 would've failed the entire mission. Enter Steve Yzerman in a 2-2 game in the 3rd period.
(Goal at 3:12 mark)
#2 ~ 2008 CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS, GAME 5: JOHAN FRANZEN
Maybe this goal is properly rated, I can't really tell. I think that it was arguably the most important Red Wings goal of the playoffs.
Look back at that season. The Wings were dominant aside from a horrid February stretch ... and two bad games in Nashville in the first round. They had their slip up with the Stars later on, but this was the only series in which they didn't hold a lead throughout. I think we'll grow to appreciate this particular Wings team even more as the years pass, because while it didn't have that staple of being "the first one for our generation" or the "one for Vladdie" or the "one with the best team ever", it was such a solidly consistent performance.
And who do we have to thank for that? A lot of people, yes. But my God the Predators were potentially one shot away from taking a 3-2 series lead back to Nashville? Against this team? Honestly how shitty would that have been? Well, you don't have to to worry about it because of Johan Franzen.
#1 ~ 2002 STANLEY CUP FINALS, GAME 3: BRETT HULL
(Really trying to give him his due today, apparently.) Without Brett Hull, there is no "Igor Larionov in Triple Overtime" -- or as you might think of it: The biggest goal by a Red Wing of the last 10+ years. It's only natural that Hull's goal was going to be forgotten by the casual fan. Somebody sees a highlight of Igor's goal and maybe they remember the deflection that tied it, or maybe they don't. All they really know for sure is that it was an epic Finals game.
It was anything but a typical Hull goal. With just over a minute to go in the game, off a faceoff win by Yzerman (Great -- there goes the drama from a potential Top Five Offensive Zone Faceoff Wins) Brett bolts for the net instead of his usual island on the wing. The puck swings around the point before Lidstrom whips one toward goal. Brett puts his stick out, and scores as clutch a goal as one can score. In doing so it changed the feel of a series that the Wings couldn't seem to get on top of through three games, and Igor broke the Canes' hearts a few hours later.
(Goal at 5:25)