Sports

Wings face the Ducks in the semis

In the spring of 1997 — a quarter-century ago — the Detroit Red Wings embarked on their quest to end a 42-year Stanley Cup drought.

The Free Press has commemorated that historic quest with a new book: “Stanleytown: The Inside Story of How the Stanley Cup Returned to the Motor City After 41 Frustrating Seasons.”

Day 15: April 30, 1997

The backstory: For the first time in 2½ weeks, when the Red Wings stepped on the ice at Joe Louis Arena, they prepared for an opponent other than the St. Louis Blues. Roughly 12 hours earlier, after the Mighty Ducks eliminated the Coyotes at 1:30 am Detroit time, the matchups were set for the Western Conference semifinals: No. 1 Colorado vs. No. 7 Edmonton and No. 3 Detroit vs. No. 4 Anaheim. The Ducks, in the playoffs for the first time, flummoxed the Wings during the regular season with a stiff trapping defense, stellar goaltending from Guy Hebert and a fast-skating, goal-scoring, pretty-playmaking line of Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya and Steve Ruchin. The Wings went 0-3-1 against Anaheim and were outscored, 7-3. But the Wings owned home ice, were well-rested — it would be five days between Game 6 with the Blues and Game 1 with the Ducks — and had two practices to prep for the trap to come.

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