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Red alert: Hawks vs. Detroit

So a Hawks fan walks into a Red Wings bar ...

  • Detroit fans cheer on the Red Wings as they take on the Blackhawks on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Photographed at The Tin Lizzie (2483 N. Clark St.). (Hilary Higgins/RedEye)
Detroit fans cheer on the Red Wings as they take on the Blackhawks on Wednesday,… (Hilary Higgins / For RedEye )
May 19, 2013|By Rob Cressy, @baconsports | For RedEye

Editor's note: As the Blackhawks and Detroit face off in the postseason for what might be the last time for a while, it's the perfect time to see how the other half cheers. RedEye sent Rob Cressy, dressed in Bulls gear, to Red Wings stronghold Tin Lizzie (2483 N. Clark St.) for Game 1. Here's what he saw.

Pregame

Like Iceman being surrounded by enemy MiGs in "Top Gun," I was engulfed in enemy fire immediately. There were few Blackhawks fans in sight. Less than five, to be exact.

I went into the evening with a few questions on my mind:

>>How many times am I going to hear "Don't Stop Believin' "?

>>Will someone rock a jersey of a current Red Wings player other than Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk?

>>Will someone use his hand as a map to show me where he's from?

With all the success the Red Wings franchise has had, I expect this to be a knowledgeable, passionate fan base that appreciates good hockey. Since the Blackhawks are the favorites in this series, how will Wings fans embrace the underdog role? Wait a minute. Underdog role? Please. This is the NHL playoffs, where seeding is as relevant as Scott Baio.

Come game time, the bar was packed with a sea of red and white jerseys. Steve Yzerman had top billing followed by Zetterberg. There was one Dan Cleary jersey, a Chris Osgood but no Jimmy Howards, a few Brendan Shanahans, but it was the lone Vladimir Konstantinov jersey that most impressed me. Ball so hard, my friend.

I had my first conversation about euchre (the card game was introduced to Michiganders by German settlers) 20 minutes before the game started, and five minutes later I heard my first, "Blackhawks fans aren't real fans—they don't even know the players" comment. This was a common theme among Wings fans who seem to think of Blackhawks fans as fair weather. Them's fightin' words.

First period

The Blackhawks jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Marian Hossa goal and the place was silent. I didn't hear F-bombs being dropped or Hossa's name being cursed. This surprised me. I would have expected more vitriol coming out of Wings fans' mouths, considering it was Hossa.

In general, Red Wings fans' thoughts on Hossa are as pleasant as watching "Waterworld" on repeat. Playing the scorned lover card, they are quick to forget Hossa previously left the Penguins to chase a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings.

Less than two minutes later, the Red Wings tied it and the place erupted as if it were announced that Uncle Kracker, Kid Rock and Eminem were touring together. The range of emotions during a playoff hockey game is as unpredictable as Amanda Bynes on a Friday night. Unfortunately for Wings fans, that goal was as good as it was going to get.

Second period

For almost the next two periods there were plenty of penalties but no goals. The crowd was in the zone but showed as much emotion as a Bill Belichick interview. I could tell they wanted to break out of their shell and erupt, but their team would not comply.

Third period

Midway through the third period, I had yet to hear "born and raised in South Detroit" ring out, and I hadn't seen any palms pretending to be the map of Michigan.

The Blackhawks got the next goal to go up 2-1 and followed with another three minutes later. The mood in the bar was like everyone just found out Goose had died.

With three minutes left, the Wings looked to have put one past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, and the loudest cheer of the night broke out—they had closed it to a one-goal deficit.

But wait! Upon further review, the puck did not go in, and the bar was in disbelief.

Moments later, an empty-net goal sealed it for the Hawks.

Postgame

Upon leaving Tin Lizzie, most Wings fans were ticked and had no interest in talking to me. They conveyed that this would be a long series, and that trash talk made me proud—that's how true fans of any team should react after a loss.

The NHL playoffs are a cruel mistress who will toy with your emotions. Win or lose, Blackhawks or Red Wings, we all feel this way for one reason: Because it's the Cup.

The Detroit fan scouting report

What makes Detroit fans tick? Here are five findings from Rob Cressy's trip to Tin Lizzie for Game 1 of the series against the Blackhawks.

1. There don't seem to be a great deal of fair-weather Wings fans. At Tin Lizzie, there was avariety of jerseys showcased, from several eras.

2. Jonathan Toews is invisible. When talking about the Blackhawks with Wings fans, there were numerous mentions of Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, but none of the Hawks captain. Hmmm ...

3. Red Wings fans love to talk about the success of previous teams and believe that will help them win this series. Well, that's never really helped the Bulls. Or the Cubs, for that matter.

4. Before the series began, most Wings fans said their team would win in seven games. Of course, they have to say that because they are the underdogs and that's how they won their first-round series.

5. Red Wings fans do not have an equivalent of the "Detroit sucks" chant. Nor do they have a goal song like "Chelsea Dagger." Clearly a win in Chicago's column.

Rob Cressy is a RedEye special contributor.

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