Just over 12 hours after they defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Red Wings boarded their team plane and departed for California.
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi summed up the mood of the team perfectly, saying, "It's the first time I've seen guys that excited to get on a plane for seven hours."
The concept of the Wings getting this far was foreign to a number of hockey fans and pundits who left them for dead after they lost Game 3 to fall into a 3-0 series deficit.
Head coach Mike Babcock and his players have remained focused on the team's gameplan and tried to maintain a level of calm. The approach has clearly worked.
"This series could have gone either way," said Babcock. "They could have won all the games and we could have won all the games, that's how tight it's been. Now, we get to go to their building and we feel energized, and yet you have to go in there and win a game."
"We're looking forward to it," said Bertuzzi. "We want to get out there, get ourselves ready and focused and play exactly the way we've been playing in order to get our past three wins."
This is the third straight season the Red Wings have played in a playoff Game 7. In 2009, they beat Anaheim in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Last year, they beat Phoenix in the opening round.
"I'm just going to go back to the couple of Game 7's we've had here in the last few years, how it's gone both ways" said Dan Cleary. "When you look back on them, what would you do differently and how would you handle it? I'm going to try and use that experience to get a win."
Watch my report from Metro Airport in the video player to the left.