CALGARY, AB -- Finishing seventh in the Western Conference last season, the Detroit Red Wings will test waters in the East this year.
They’ve added key forwards in Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, but how Detroit’s aging core continues to roll in the Eastern Conference will determine how successful the Red Wings are after realignment. Equally important is how Jimmy Howard responds. He signed a lucrative extension in April and becomes increasingly important in front of Detroit’s defence.
So far, the new division hasn’t slowed the Wings any. Detroit is 7-4-2 this season and currently sits in a four-way tie for second in the Atlantic with 16 points.
Last season: 24-16-8 (7th in West)
Notable Additions: F Daniel Alfredsson, F Stephen Weiss
Notable Subtractions: F Damien Brunner, D Carlo Colaiacovo, F Valtteri Filppula, D Ian White, F Jan Mursak
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Alfredsson has delivered another veteran presence to the Red Wings lineup. He’s also brought some offensive punch, too. The 40-year-old comes to Calgary having scored in back-to-back games and has three goals and 11 points this season.
Inked this offseason to a five-year deal with an average annual value of $4.9 million, Weiss has yet to deliver. The 30-year-old has just two points in 13 games this season and is minus-7 in his last 10 outings. The former fourth overall pick of the Florida Panthers has yet to find his groove in Motown.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
It doesn’t take much incentive to keep an eye on Datsyuk. He’s always found success against the Flames, recording 11 goals and 38 points in 40 career games against the club. Though he continues to age, the 35-year-old’s skills haven’t diminished and he continues to pace Detroit with 12 points this season.
Much like Datsyuk, Zetterberg has a share of the team lead in points with 12. The 33-year-old has also found success against Calgary, finding the back of the net 14 times and adding 12 helpers in 37 career games against the Flames.
Leading Detroit in points from the blue line with eight this season, Kronwall is doing it all on defence for the Red Wings. The 32-year-old also leads the team in ice time, playing upwards of 22 minutes per game. Kronwall isn’t shy to block a shot, either, leading Detroit with 26 this season and putting him among the top-30 in the NHL.