|No matter what changes, who retires or who gets traded – the Detroit Red Wings always find a way to keep themselves in a position to contend for the Central Division crown. |
A lot of that occurred this summer in the Motor City. There was some uncertainty toward the end of last season over whether future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom would return for another season, inciting a collective cold sweat among the Red Wing faithful. Brian Rafalski decided to hang up the skates, as did goaltender Chris Osgood. Although his career in Detroit was brief, Mike Modano returned to Dallas on a one-day contract and formally retired as a Dallas Star.
Through all of that, the Red Wings are still the odds-on favorite to win the division and challenge for another Stanley Cup championship. Their core is a year older, but that will not slow down the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula. Those four players are just part of a hard-working and skilled lineup Detroit coach Mike Babcock entrusts with heavy ice time on a nightly basis. Add in the likes of Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Jakub Kindl and offseason acquisition Ian White and the Red Wings have a skilled and mobile blue line to complement their forward group.
What many admire about the Red Wings is their consistency; they play the same way regardless of who is in or out of their lineup. That is a testament to Babcock, one of the most accomplished coaches in the game and who recently won the gold medal as head coach of Team Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
In addition to adding White to replace the offense of Rafalski, Detroit general manager Ken Holland signed Mike Commodore from the free agent market and figure to lend more minutes and responsibility to young players like Kindl. One thing opponents must always be aware of with Detroit is the transition game; the Red Wings feed on turnovers and can quickly punish those who commit them. The Red Wings are unbeaten (4-0-0) in their first four games and have allowed five goals against.
Jimmy Howard enters the season yet again as the undisputed No. 1 goaltender in Motown, and he will be supported by second-tour Red Wing Ty Conklin. The veteran returned to the Red Wings this summer on a free-agent contract after spending two years with the St. Louis Blues.
| || || |
|Prospal (3) ||Three tied (2) |
|Nash (4) ||Three tie (2) |
|Nash (6) ||Hudler, Franzen (4) |
|Prospal (10) ||Abdelkader (5) |
|Prospal (+2) ||Kindl (+6) |
|Mason (0-5-1) |
|Howard (4-0-0) |
|Mason (3.34) ||Howard (1.63) |
|Mason (.883) ||Howard (.930) || |
|•No team has been better defensively than the Red Wings this season, and the numbers are quite staggering. Through their first four games, they have allowed a total of five goals and hold a goal differential of +8. That number is even more impressive when you consider Detroit has scored 13 goals – the fewest of the three divisional leaders in the Western Conference. |
•With Tuesday’s loss to the Stars at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets are winless in their first six games for the second time in franchise history (2001-02). They will be on the hunt for their first victory of the season at Joe Louis Arena, a place that has not been kind to them over the years.
•Derick Brassard’s power-play goal on Tuesday night was the 2,000th goal in Blue Jackets franchise history. A total of 119 different players have scored goals for Columbus in its 11-year history.
•Detroit has taken a team-scoring mentality in its first four games as 10 players have recorded at least two points. The Red Wings are led in scoring by Franzen and Jiri Hudler, who each have two goals and two assists for four total points. White joins those two to form the Detroit trio that has scored two goals already.
•Rookie center Cory Emmerton has made an impact with the Red Wings, tallying a goal and an assist despite only having six games of NHL experience. Emmerton spent four seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL), the Red Wings’ top affiliate, before making the jump to the big club this season. The 23-year-old from St. Thomas, Ontario, has averaged between eight and 11 minutes of ice time in his four games.
•It has been a relatively slow start to the season for Henrik Zetterberg, but it’s no secret he can break out at any given moment. Though he has scored just one goal in four games, he’s always a threat for Babcock’s team and has already put up 20 shots on goal – five more than the next-highest total on the club.
C - #93
•"The Mule" might be one of the least-talked about stars in the NHL. The 31-year-old Swedish forward made his NHL debut in the 2005-06 regular season with Detroit playing third and fourth-line minutes, but his breakout season came in 2007-08. Many thought that would be a transition year for Detroit, but the Red Wings ended up winning the Stanley Cup and Franzen was a big part of that with 27 goals. He bounced back from an injury-riddled 2009-10 season with 28 goals and 55 points in 76 games a year ago, cementing his spot in the Red Wings’ top-six group of forwards.
G Mark Dekanich (ankle); indefinitely
LW Kristian Huselius (pectoral); indefinitely
RW Jared Boll (thumb); indefinitely
C Jeff Carter (foot); day-to-day
G Curtis Sanford (groin); 2 to 4 weeks
G Allen York Emergency Recalled - Oct. 20