EDMONTON, Alberta — If you thought the Red Wings would come out here and die, go splat, give up . . . If you thought the Red Wings would be intimidated by the aura of Edmonton, by the tradition, by the name, by the championship banners hanging from the ceiling . . .

If you thought the insults would bother them, or the arrogance, or the signs in the rafters, like: “The few . . . The Proud . . . The Oilers . . . “

If you thought the names Gretzky and Messier and Kurri would send the Red Wings all a-shiver, leave them gasping for breath, choking on their very existence, unable to concentrate as the great ones skated right past en route to easy goals, all night long . . . You were wrong.

Red Wings 3, Oilers 1.

Sorry.

If you thought Jacques Demers was kidding when he said Tuesday morning,
“Hey, we came here to win, not just to play . . .

If you figured the newspapers here were correct when they predicted a four-game sweep, and the radio stations that wondered if the people here could stay awake for an Edmonton- Detroit series were correct, absolutely correct . . .

If you figured the “best team in hockey” is always going to beat a former
“worst team in hockey” even if the labels no longer apply . . .

You went awry.

Red Wings 3, Oilers 1.

Sorry.

No wakeup call for Oilers

If you figured the first period Tuesday night was a fluke, a joke, that the Red Wings could never hang on to a 2-1 lead over this team, that a 2-1 lead meant a 10-2 loss . . .

If you figured the Oilers would wake up in the second period and send the pucks into the Detroit net as often as TV commercials, that they would defend their home turf, that they would not tolerate what had happened in the first period . . .

If you figured the Oilers would wake up in the third period and send the pucks into the Detroit net as often as TV commercials, that they would defend their home turf, that they would not tolerate what happened in the second period . . .

If you figured that the Oilers would wake up in the fourth period . . .

Uh . . .

There is no fourth period.

Red Wings 3, Oilers 1.

Sorry.

What did you think? Names like Yzerman and Gallant and Kocur did not belong on the ice with names like Fuhr and Coffey and Gretzky?

That the goalie situation would wreak havoc on Detroit, Greg Stefan would throw a tantrum in the net, Glen Hanlon would be exhausted from the Toronto series, Jacques Demers would be forced to go with Mark Laforest, and the Oilers would go through Laforest like Latrees? . . .

Did you think that this was all a dream, a hockey purist’s nightmare, that it would all go away in the morning light . . .

You were not right.

Red Wings 3, Oilers 1.

Sorry.

Leave those brooms at home

If you thought that Edmonton was too good to be affected by rust, by a layoff . . .

If you thought that Edmonton was beyond defeat, that the people here who left 628 seats empty for the Campbell Conference Final knew what they were doing . . .

If you thought that this Thursday night would be Detroit’s final visit to this northern town . . .

Step down.

So this is one game, and the Edmonton team that the Red Wings face Thursday will not be as cocky or as rusty. So as Demers said afterward, “We’re just a one-game success. All we proved tonight was that there would not be a sweep.”

And someone asked, “Either way?”

And Demers answered: “Either way.”

So? So now you know. If you went with tradition, statistics, history, if you went with Edmonton not having lost to Detroit since 1983 . . . if you went with records, if you went with front-runners, if you went with doomsayers who always seem to know what they’re talking about . . . if you went with the guy on your left, who was going with the guy on his left, who was going with the guy on his left, who was going with Edmonton to sweep it .
. .

You went astray.

Now go away.

Red Wings 3, Oilers 1.

Anybody want to play Game 2?

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