Yzerman remains cautious about Detroit's Cup prospects, unmoved by something as meaningless as first place at midseason. "Teams that win in the playoffs have the ability to shut down the other team in the third period," he says. "We've relied on our goalies to make too many great saves. We have to become a harder team to play, even though we have a lot of skilled players. We also could be more physical, play a more abrasive game."
There are five skaters on the ice and only one puck, but that hasn't been a problem for Detroit. The lack of sandpaper, as Holland calls it, might prove to be an issue, but not ego. "The other team chips the puck out after 50 seconds of your power play, and you look over and Hull, Robitaille and Larionov have one leg over the boards, ready to come on," Shanahan says. "You're telling me you're going to stay out there?"
Detroit's future Hall of Famers have accomplished too much and earned too much money to be sidetracked by the relatively trivial issues of points or ice time. Chelios, Shanahan and Yzerman all deferred salary so Holland could sign Hull in August. "It's awesome when you're walking into a visiting arena and some security guard's head is snapping back and forth as one after another of these great players walks by," Shanahan says. "Your chest goes out."
These Red Wings would have been a lock for the 1992 Stanley Cup. The 2002 Cup looks likely—if they don't get trapped in nomad's land.