My pick for Wings Most Valuable Playoff Player Period:
(Photo: David Guralnick, The Detroit News)
Dominik Hasek is without a doubt the most batshit loco goaltender on the planet. This having been said, insanity is a sign of quality in a goalie (see: Roy, Patrick), and Hasek was pretty friggin good this year.
I won't rant and rave about how unbeatable or slinky-tastic Hasek was, because the guy did give up a few goals here and there that were questionable. It's not to say all great goalies don't give up a few goals here and there, but in 2002, I can tell you Hasek was a lot better.
Anaheim also, better than any team I've seen, did a good job of getting him low, charging the net, getting in his proverbial kitchen, and getting goals any way possible. Hasek does have weaknesses and they exploited him. But even despite all that, Hasek gave the Wings the opportunity to win every series, and it was only the stalling of the PP and some seriously fluky shit that lost the series for the Wings in the WCF.
How, precisely, did Hasek do it for the Wings? He made some stellar saves to be sure, and he even stole a game or two. But I believe above and beyond all that, it was the ability to have confindence in the goaltender that Hasek gave the Wings. Bill over at A2Y is fond of saying that Hasek is the polar opposite of Manny "The Mouth" Legace in this regard, and I have to agree with him. Day after day Wings in the locker room expressed the utmost confidence in Dom and it showed in their aggressive playing style. D-Men weren't afraid to launch up the wing on a rush, (and haven't been all year) and the Wings played with confidence and thought they could win.
Now, undoubtedly, the biggest of the Wings' offseason questions is whether Hasek comes back for another season. Despite Drew Sharp's demands, Holland will and should bring him back. Not only because he'll be pretty good, but because he'll be the best value goaltender in the league, hands down. It's true that he'll be 43, and it's true that as one gets older, one loses speed, agility, flexibility, and becomes more injury prone. Hasek can only really have a worse season than last. But the Wings can only be better, and like I said, the confidence he inspires is worth as much as his performance itself.
Playoffs MVP Honorable Mention: Nicklas Lidstrom, Dan Cleary
Wings Playoffs WTF!? Award (Monday)
Wings Playoffs Rookie Award (Tuesday)
Wings Playoffs Snub Award (Wednesday)