The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight for the Wings and Don Shane says its a whole new ballgame

Today just feels different around town. The atmosphere, the anticipation, the excitement of the NHL playoffs is in the air throughout the city and all of metropolitan Detroit.

Trust me it's in the Red Wings locker room as well.

The players know, and the fans realize there is regular season hockey, then there's playoff hockey.

It's two different games, two different beasts, two levels of intensity and we have all felt that experience around here for the last 20 years.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The Wings have made the playoffs for 20 consecutive years. Pick a sport, any sport, and you'll find very few teams who can match that streak. That's playoff excitement 20 years in a row which is a remarkable record of being very good.

A streak in which others are envious. A streak that has, to some extent, spoiled the Detroit hockey fan. Because it has gotten to the point where unless you win the Stanley Cup, the season will be viewed as a failure.

And while that high expectation might sound harsh to some, it doesn't to the Red Wing players.

Winning the cup is what they expect. It's why they play the game, just ask them and they'll tell you.

They are good enough, they are experienced enough and they are realistic enough to know that goal can be reached.

The 80 game regular season is a merely a prelude to tonight and the journey begins against Phoenix. Everyone involved hopes it ends with a parade down Woodward.

Let me know what you think. 

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