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.
That may be to this day the greatest theme music for any video game. That sound ladies and gents, means the NHL season is just around the corner. This will be the first of 5 total Red Wings preview posts. This one will be breaking down the top 6 forwards with following posts covering the bottom 6 forwards/stragglers, the defense, and the goalies, with the last post being a full season preview/prediction piece. These first 4 will be heavy with stats and opinions, while the last post will be a much more fun piece. but let’s talk stats.
The top 6 forwards are going to consist of potential lines of Tatar-Datsyuk-Helm and Nyquist-Zetterberg-Franzen. This list obviously has a bunch of big names on it that I’m sure you all know very well. If not, then I don’t know how you got to this site. Also note, my favorite advanced stats site, extraskater.com, shut down because the guy who runs it got a job with the Leafs. Come on man, priorities!!! But I will be using a mixture of sites to compile more in depth analysis, giving hockeyanalysis.com a test run, and if you need to brush up on advanced stats definitions, hockey analysis has a helpful glossary. I also just decided to change the format of this due to length issues, so I turn on The Weeknd and trek forward. Continue Reading
As Wings fans we would probably all answer that question with a resounding YES right now. In the wake of news that Henrik Zetterberg’s Olympics and possibly his NHL season might be over now due to aggravating a nagging back injury in Sochi, Detroit fans might be questioning why he even made the trip. Another member of the Wings who went to Sochi under 100% is Pavel Datsyuk, after playing limited minutes in only two games before the Olympics. Both of these gentlemen were slated to be the Captain of their respective National teams so I can understand the intrigue of them wanting to play. However, there is also an NHL team paying them millions of dollars to play for them with the overall goal of winning the Stanley Cup. Should NHL players put that goal in jeopardy to play in a two-week international tournament for their country?
Let’s not forget that Zetterberg has already won a gold medal with Sweden in 2006 and it wasn’t long ago that Datsyuk was eager for his NHL contract to come to an end so he could head back home to play in Russia. I’ll admit to feeling bitter with the news that we may have lost our Captain for the rest of the season, but I can’t help feeling that this could have been avoided. The Wings own Johan Franzen knew he was too injured and stayed home; Tampa Bay phenom Steven Stamkos stayed home, an arguable tournament MVP candidate, even with 3/4 of a leg. Sure, Z’s back may have felt ‘okay’ before the Olympic break – but add in a ridiculously long flight, sleeping on a dog bed and practicing for 15 minutes before playing your first Olympic game and you have a nice recipe to re-aggravate your back injury.
Pavel’s situation is similar but he seemed to be extra stoked for these Olympics being that they are in Russia and he was named Captain of the Russian team. However, Pavel did not look strong in the first game he played for Russia, a bad sign for Wings fans. Traveling long distances and messing up your body clock is not the best way to heal from an injury. It was apparent weeks ago however that Pavel was not going to miss these Olympic games for the reasons I mentioned prior, which seems kind of rogue in practical terms. If I were to call my workplace and state that I was going to be taking Action A which has a (ballpark) 50% chance of Outcome B (B is a bad outcome), my company would probably advise me not to take that action. This is capitalist America right? So far our team is the only one that has been affected by a serious Olympic injury (assuming Zetterberg is seriously injured – he said his back hurts 20x worse than last time he tweaked it), but imagine if Crosby was injured or a big name goalie like Lundquist? Those teams seasons could take a dire turn, kind of like what would happen if you lost your Captain…fingers crossed.
Detroit sent the largest groups of players to the Olympics in the Eastern Conference and we are currently clinging to a playoff berth. When the Olympics are done and the Wings return home, will the well-rested teams come in a skate all over us for a while? This question and others will wait to be answered in the coming weeks, but how could having that many guys on travel and playing games not affect the team? We may not need to ask these questions in the next Winter Olympics as there has yet to be a decision whether NHL players will compete in the 2018 games in South Korea.
Are NHL players selfish for playing in the Olympics? Not if they’re smart about it – but if you’re hurt, recently hurt, or even smell hurt – you shouldn’t put your NHL team’s season in jeopardy. This isn’t the beer league championship. I’m getting a bad feeling about the remainder of the 2014 Red Wings season, you guys.
Update 2/21: We learned today that Zetterberg had back surgery on his herniated disc and will miss approximately 8 weeks. That puts his possible comeback date somewhere around the first round of the playoffs…if we make them.
The views in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of everyone here at GHE. – Bobo