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‘Wings back in the Swing

The Detroit Red Wings had an okay start to their season by their standards. But, in life and in hockey, it’s not where or how you start but how you finish. The Wings are showing teams that’s exactly the case with their re-energized and now healthy roster. Their recent seven game win streak is reminding teams why they should be afraid of them.

There’s a reason the Wings have won the Cup 11 times, they managed to stay successful post salary cap when other teams were severely hurt, and even managed to find their way back to the Finals two years in a row. How do they do it year after year? It starts with proper scouting and ends with proper training. You have to drink the kool-aid to make it with the Wings, but if you drink it up, you’ll find yourself mixing it with Grey Goose and swigging it from the cup.

Let’s take a look at all the other teams around the Conference in playoff contention to see how their stats match up against the Red Wings. Since October, the Wings have not lost more than four in a row, while they haven’t had a 14 game win streak like the Capitals, they haven’t ever slid down a bad streak unable to find a W.

San Jose Even though the Sharks lead the Western Conference they have not been immune to hitting skids. Their biggest winning streak is eight games (12.17.2009 – 01.02.2010) they had two semi-bad losing streaks of six games (03.13.2010 – 03.21.2010) and five games (12.03.2009 – 12.12.2009) 
– Chicago has a great win streak with eight games (11.09.2009 – 11.25.2009) coupled with the best losing streak.  They’ve only lost three in a row twice (01.30.2010 – 02.05.2010 and 03.13.2010 – 03.17.2010)
Phoenix – The Coyotes have had an amazing run thus far, and given their resiliency it’s not expected to stop any time soon.  Their best win streak was nine games (03.04.2010 – 03.21.2010)  They’ve only been beaten three games in a row twice (01.07.2010 – 01.12.2010 and 02.12.2010 – 03.02.2010)
Vancouver – The Canucks are leading the Northwest Division for a reason, they’ve had a seven win streak (01.16.2010 – 01.30.2010) and have not lost more than three in a row, and have only done so twice. (11.06.2009 – 11.12.2009 and 01.09.2010 – 01.13.2010)
Nashville – Nashville has had a great win streak at seven (11.12.2009 – 11.25.2009), there was one time they went six games without a W (10.10.2009 – 10.21.2009), and another they went five games (01.18.2010 – 01.29.2010)
Los Angeles – The Kings have had a nine game winning streak (01.21.2010 – 02.06.2010) and have only slid into a four game losing skid twice (12.17.2009 – 12.30.2009 and 03.24.2010 – 03.29.2010)
Colorado – The Avalanche haven’t had too big of winning streaks, but up until this point they had been able to control losing skids to four games or fewer. While they have split their past six painful losses with a W, they’re used to winning a few more in between. Their best winning streak was when Captain Adam Foote was out due to injury (01.09.2010 – 01.24.2010) Coincidence? Probably not.
Calgary – The Flames’ best win streak is a measly five games (12.28.2009 – 01.05.2010), while their longest losing streak is an astounding nine games (01.11.2010 – 01.28.2010). They have been winning when it counts, namely Wednesday night in Calgary and Friday night in Colorado to tie the Avalanche for spot number eight.

I have spent my entire hockey loving life aware of the Red Wings. It’s impossible not to know how they are doing being an Avalanche fan. Before the salary cap the Avs and Wings faced each other in the playoffs more times than any Avs fan cares to remember. There were times when their meeting in the Western Conference was a guaranteed better series than the Stanley Cup Finals. Some of the biggest and best fights were between the Avs and Red Wings. For me, it was frustrating how year after year they had some of the best guys. Guys that were already contenders for the Hall of Fame when I was in my teens, playing and making me furious.

It is one thing for the Red Wings to be successful after years and years of success with their economy being okay, but they’ve kind of defied the NHL with their success and the recession with their fans’ continued support. There are people in Detroit who can barely afford housing or food, but somehow the Wings still draw a large crowd to their arena game after game. Some people would probably rather see a hockey game than eat out for a month. Hockey is in their hearts, money can’t turn them away. The salary cap really hurt certain teams (i.e. Colorado Avalanche) while some were able to still be effective (i.e Detroit Red Wings.)  Many will ask why, so here’s my theory.

Unlike most of the teams wheeling and dealing at trade deadline time the Red Wings were relatively silent. While many teams needed to make trades so the proper fit could be found (i.e. Stempniak and Wolski) the Wings believe in something else. Instead of dumping a player whose not fitting their team they develop, train, and& shape them. How many rookie goalies have a veteran superstar training them, giving them advice? Not many, but Howard has Chris Osgood providing him tips to succeed. Because in Detroit they put their egos aside for the greater good, and that good is called Lord Stanley’s Cup.

What advantages does Detroit have over their counterparts? Experience for one. Whether or not Jimmy Howard is a rookie he’s gotten a ton of experience this past season. The Red Wings have always been a team to beat with their recent dominance, therefore teams bring their ‘A’ game to play them. Playing teams with fierce determination all year long can only help them down this last stretch. The biggest kicker? Osgood can step in at any time & be effective for the Wings; however, his biggest contribution is fostering the career of their next big netminder. This team is always thinking ahead, looking forward not back. It’s why they’ll always be in the running for the playoffs and a team to be feared.

Another reason to fear and respect the Wings? Well their forwards score and so do their defensemen. What Team Canada fan didn’t think effing Rafalski every time he touched the puck?!? The pain of Canadians was the fear that Brian would pinch up and make them pay on either Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo. Every single one of their players can lift them out of a funk, every one of their players has the potential to be dangerous. While some names are bigger than others, there is no ‘weak link’ in this team. Should be some great hockey to watch them in the playoffs, even if it kills me and my heart.

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