Here we are again and it’s time for RED WINGS HOCKEY!!! After a summer that lasted wayyy too long for the Wings, they are back on the Joe Louis Arena ice as they begin their season with the team that ended their last campaign. Boston comes to town tonight after winning their home opener last night over the Flyers 2-1. I could get long winded here looking into the season ahead but I would rather stay positive for now, so I’m going to keep it short and light. Andddd I’m going to the game tonight with a couple other GHE members and I’m just too excited to sit here and pound away at my keyboard when I can be watching videos like the one above, dancing around my house.
1. Hockey is back!!
2. Inured Wings are mended. Hank is fully healthy and turning 34 today. Ericsson is also back, just in case you forgot he was part of this team.
3. Cleary and Weiss are where they belong, in the press box. Ok, they actually belong in the junkyard but wearing a suit at the top of JLA will do for now.
4. The youth movement continues. Joining the apparent young studs of Nyquist, Jurco, Tatar, and Sheahan is Andrej Nestrasil, who for now is on the opening night lineup card over guys like the 2 mentioned above. Granted he will probably be sent down when Pav gets healthy, still exciting to see new young players moving into the lineup over old farts. He had 16 goals and 20 assists in Grand Rapids last season, and finished the preseason with 2 goals and 2 assists.
5. Boston is coming off a game last night.
6. Ken and Mick are back!!! I met Mick once, and boy oh boy is he a beauty.
1. Pav is already hurt. After suffering a separated shoulder in what I believe was the first preseason game, he is still a couple weeks out from a return.
2. Kyle Quincey is back and STILL being paired with Brendan Smith. I feel like Quincey brings out the worst in Smith, and my temper.
3. It’s the last year of Babcock’s contract, so who knows.
4. The Wings didn’t get any better in the offseason. There is a good chance they put you through the same torture as last season.
5. Boston is good.
1. Cleary and Weiss are still on the roster.
1. So cliche, but health. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Ericsson, and Franzen all played roughly half the games. Howard almost missed considerable time. Weiss missed basically 3/4 of the season (blessing in disguise). The thing about those injuries, they are all top 2 line players. The Wings had a strong push from their kids last season, but the stars have to be healthy for this team to succeed.
2. The kids. There’s no denying that Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan and Jurco propelled this team into the postseason. The question is, can they do it again? With increased roles they will be expected to increase production. Nyquist had 28 goals in half a season, can he get 30+? These guys also won’t be surprising teams this year, there is more footage and teams will be planning to shut them down. Let’s hope they can adapt or it will be a long season.
3. Darren Helm. What the hell is Helm? He shows flashes of scoring ability, but can he consistently score? Can he even stay healthy? It’s like we need to put a bubble around this guy. I’ve personally been waiting for him to have that breakout year, he seems so close at times, and then as soon as he gets into a scoring area, his hands head back to the bench. If Helm doesn’t pop in 20 goals this season I consider that a bad year for him.
Key to success
1. There is only 1 here and that is Jimmy Howard. If the Wings are going to make noise, Howard has to play better. He has to put last years bad season behind him and get back to being the guy from the 2012-13 season who had a 2.13 gaa, .923 sv% and tied for the league lead in shutouts. He has to be more consistent on a game to game basis. Too many times we have seen him make 35 saves and give up a goal only to come back the next game and give up 4 on 25 shots. Babcock and company have said he is looking as sharp as ever, as he spent the offseason working his tail off. The Wings are paying him like a franchise goalie, now he has to play like one. If he has a questionable first couple months, I think you have to bring up Mrazek because he looks like the real deal.
Things to watch
1. With Tom Renney gone, the Wings brought in a new coach to work the powerplay. They had 8 powerplay goals in 8 preseason games, which is a good start. The way the NHL dishes out powerplays nowadays, special teams have to be truly special. Thank you, I’ll be here all season.
2. Ericsson and Kronwall have to play like a true top pair. It would be nice to see Ericsson push some people around, I mean he is huge. We need these guys to be that shutdown pair.
3. Brendan Smith. Will he take a step forward and progress, or will he fall into the same patterns as last year? All I’ve heard for the past few seasons is this guy is going to be a good NHL defenseman, time to show it. You have to have strong goaltending and defense to win in this league, Smith needs to be strong this year. We will see real quick if his decision making and first passes out of the zone have gotten any better.
That’s that, take it how you will, and Let’s Go Red Wings!!!
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