Friday, April 10, 2009

How Good are the Red Wings?

This years edition of the Detroit Red Wings are an enigma. How could the goaltending be so bad? How many points could we score in a 7 game series? Can we outscore teams to win the Cup?

Well, the answers to those questions will be revealed to us shortly as the Wings enter the marathon for Lord Stanley's Cup. I think the Wings are getting healthy at a good time. Zetterberg's back has been fairly strong this year and Rafalski is coming back at the right time. I think Mike "Best Hair in Hockey" Babcock will go with Osgood in the playoffs but we could see Conklin quick as we did last year. Hasek was pulled midway through the series against Nashville in favor of Osgood. Osgood has 2 cups in his pocket but has played terrible this year. A microcosm of that was last night's loss to Nashville, where he imploded just in time for the Preds to tie it up.

The offense will be solid, and usually Babcock has stellar special teams. But goaltending could do the Wings in. Unless Osgood or Conklin find some April magic it could be a quick exit for the defending champs.


  1. Osgood has three rings, two of which gained when starting. He and Vernon split the job in 97 anyway before he was sat at the start of the playoffs.

    I don't care though. Conklin doesn't have letdowns like Ozzie. Same was true with CuJo way back when. He was guaranteed a beachball each game, but he'd play consistent. Ozzie ebbs and flows far too much.

    The offense will get help with Rafalski returning, but I want Lilja to return and bump out Lebda (not Ericsson). He'd be a big body that has played well, unlike Lebda, who has played like a #6 defenseman.

    Again, though, we'll see how consistent those outside of Datsyuk will be. Zetterberg, I hope, never gets touched, or his back will go. Franzen is a beast, and scores timely (which is great for the playoffs). Hossa still has a playoff monkey on his back as far as I'm concerned. Yes, he was fantastic last year, but I hope he'll continue it, especially now that he's not being counted on as the #1 scoring option.

  2. All great points. When I said Osgood had two rings, I meant when being the starter. Hossa should be able to kill in the playoffs because of the team and the "Euro" style of hockey the Red Wings play. I'd go with Osgood purely due to experience this year but have Conklin ready. What do the Red Wings see in Lebda anyway? I think its time to develop some young defensive talent before it bites us in the butt in a few years. Lilja has been the most pleasant surprise this season.

  3. That's the thing: the Wings have defensive talent.

    It's been people like Lebda, Chelios, and until-recently, Lilja, that have stalled the pushing up of prospects.

    Part of the reason why the Wings haven't been able to bring up Ericsson has been because his salary cap hit is $900,000, and using Derek Meech as the forward/defenseman-Mathieu Dandenault-type has been cheaper and decently effective.

    But going back to the depth, you've got your top four in Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, and Stuart, with what this year I'd now pencil in Lilja as the #5 defenseman.

    That leaves the #6 spot to Meech, Lebda, and Chelios. Lebda gets it for his speed and experience, but Chelios gets consideration for his prowess on the PK and toughness. Meech is a victim of numbers.

    Behind Meech is Ericsson, who is huge and has great upside for being the dead-last pick in the draft. Jakub Kindl was a No. 1 pick from 05 and probably will be NHL-ready next year.

    Garrett Stafford isn't a prospect, but he's the #1/2 defenseman in Grand Rapids.

    Logan Pyett is a recent graduate of the CHL and will need another year, but he's a good puck-mover.

    Then the Wings have two younger studs in the college ranks, Brendan Smith, the first rounder in 07, has been spectacular for Wisconsin and probably will leave after next year. Also Max Nicastro will be playing for the NCAA Title-gunning Boston University Terriers (and their mind-numbingly awful xylophone).