Why 1997 Detroit Red Wings spent a night scoreboard-watching

In the spring of 1997 — a quarter-century ago — the Detroit Red Wings embarked on their quest to end a 42-year Stanley Cup drought.

The Free Press has commemorated that historic quest with a new book: “Stanleytown: The Inside Story of How the Stanley Cup Returned to the Motor City After 41 Frustrating Seasons.”

DAY 12:How 1997 Detroit Red Wings ended St. Louis Blues’ season

DAY 11:Wings prepare for pivotal Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena

Day 13: April 27, 1997

The backstory: With the St. Louis Blues finally in their rearview mirror, the Red Wings enjoyed an off day as they waited to learn their opponent in the Western Conference semifinals. A pair of Game 7s on April 29 would determine whether the third-seeded Wings would tangle with second-seeded Dallas, fourth-seeded Anaheim or fifth-seeded Phoenix. The bad news for Wings fans? Detroit struggled against all three teams during the regular season: 2-4-0 against Dallas, 0-3-1 against Anaheim and 2-2-1 against Phoenix. Detroit also had been outscored by all three — 19-16 by Dallas, 7-3 by Anaheim and 17-15 by Phoenix.

Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood shakes the hand of Blues forward Brett Hull at the end of Game 6 of the first round playoff series at the Kiel Center on April 27, 1997.

The schedule: At 8 the next night, Dallas was to host seventh-seeded Edmonton. If the Stars won, they would play the Wings, and Hockeytown fans could go to bed and skip the 10:30 p.m. game between Anaheim and Phoenix. But if the Stars lost to the Oilers, the Wings would play the Anaheim-Phoenix winner. With a Dallas victory, the semifinal pairings would be No. 1 Colorado vs. No. 4 Anaheim or No. 5 Phoenix AND No. 2 Dallas vs. No. 3 Detroit. With a Dallas loss, the semifinal pairings would be No. 1 Colorado vs. No. 7 Edmonton AND No. 3 Detroit vs. No. 4 Anaheim or No. 5 Phoenix. The semifinals were slated to start at week’s end.

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