DETROIT – Bill Barber was enjoying sunshine on a spectacular beach in Siesta Key, Fla., the day after the Detroit Red Wings joined his Philadelphia Flyers—and Boston Bruins—in the NHL record book.
The former Flyers star wasn’t about to let having company in league lore spoil his stroll on the Gulf of Mexico coast.
In fact, Barber is happy that Detroit has won 20 straight home games to equal the league’s single-season mark Boston set during the 1929-30 season and he helped Philadelphia match in 1976.
“I think any time an accomplishment is made by a team or from a personal standpoint, it’s great for the league,” Barber said Monday, a day after Detroit defeated the Flyers 4-3 to tie the record. “I think it’s good for hockey because a team that plays the right way has people talking about the game.”
The NHL-leading Red Wings will have the record alone if they beat the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“It would mean a lot, but to be honest we haven’t really paid that much attention to it,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We’ve just been going about our everyday business.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock has downplayed what the streak means to him and his players, insisting he hasn’t even addressed the record once with them. He has, however, been effusive in his praise about the current collection of Red Wings.
“This has been one of the most consistent teams I’ve ever coached as far as just bringing an effort each and every day,” said Babcock, who helped the franchise hoist its 11th Stanley Cup in 2008.
Lidstrom said he couldn’t recall the last time Detroit lost at home.
That setback was so long ago it’s easy to forget: Calgary beat the Red Wings 4-1 on Nov. 3 to cap Detroit’s six-game losing streak.
Since then, Detroit has not only won 20 straight, four have been by five goals or more.
The Red Wings have extended their run in the Motor City with three shootout victories, taking advantage of an option teams didn’t have until the 2005-06 season, and with another win after regulation.
“A win is a win, shootout or no shootout,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who hopes his broken right index finger is healthy enough for him to play Friday night at home against the Nashville Predators. “It’s probably a lot more competitive now. In the salary-cap era, a lot more teams are evenly matched.”
Since the lockout that led to shootouts to break ties, Boston had the previous best streak at home, winning 14 straight games during the 2008-09 season, according to STATS, LLC.
The last two teams to win 20 straight at home—the Bruins eight-plus decades ago and the Flyers nearly 36 years ago—were defending Stanley Cup champions who went on to lose in the finals.
“We had a great team, we just ran out of steam,” Barber said. “And, we didn’t have Bernie Parent in net because he was injured and that hurt our chances that year.”
Rows of banners hang over the ice at Joe Louis Arena, honouring the franchise’s Stanley Cups, conference, league and division championships along with retired jerseys from Gordie Howe to Steve Yzerman.
If the Red Wings add to their rich history with a win over Dallas, at least one of their veterans said not to expect the feat to be recognized in the rafters.
“That’s not our goal,” four-time champion Tomas Holmstrom said. “Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and that’s the only kind of banner we’re interested in having up by the roof.”