The most consistent team of our generation comes out east.
The Detroit Red Wings may not be used to how hockey is played out east, but given their consistent ability to be contenders in the Wild, Wild West over the years, it’s impossible to count them out. Losing key players and leaders in their locker room has not stopped them from being perennially playoff-bound and that will not change this year.
Many teams go through the usual spikes in success followed by the pains in a rebuild, but Ken Holland has managed to keep his team competitive and while many may not consider Detroit to be an attractive city that hasn’t stopped them from locking up some elite level talent in Datsyuk and Zetterberg, as well as going out and reaching to veteran Daniel Alfredsson whom many believed to be a lifer as a Senator and Stephen Weiss. Like the aforementioned Bruins, they also locked up their #1 goalie, Jimmy Howard, to a lucrative 6 year deal. Howard may not be considered the top goalie in the NHL but in Detroit has done nothing but prove to be a great netminder over the years and a backbone to their success.
Being able to use Zetterberg as a winger alongside Datsyuk and giving second line duties to Weiss provides them with size down the middle and allows them to have 2 effective puck moving power-plays. On the wings, Franzen, Samuelsson, Miller are all players that have bought into Coach Babcock’s system. They can only be helped by the addition of Alfredsson, who will no longer be in his usual Go-to role but will assume a more fitting complementary role given his age.
On D, the Red Wings have the same look as last year, Kronwall will be their number one along with Ericsson and Kindl, and their younger players are more seasoned and mature, and if last season was any indication, expect Dekeyser and Smith to show more impact in that lineup, as the Wings undertake to strengthen their blue line.
Overall, the Red Wings will be relying on a very strong system, filled with players who are ready to buy into that system and fill in voids in case of injuries. While the heavy-weights Datsyuk and Zetterberg will be expected to generate major point production, expect even-point dispersion from the rest of the lineup. Like the Bruins, they have a schedule that sees them playing the Florida teams 5 times each, and like the Bruins they should take the majority of their games and the season series based on past standings for the respective clubs. In the end, this should result in a slight separation from the pack.