May 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader (8) skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks in game six of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Off-Season Q&A : Detroit Red Wings

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings are truly a remarkable franchise in the National Hockey League. Long term consistent excellence has left me continually scratching my head, asking the question ‘how is it possible for them to be good year after year and never suffer from a rebuild?’

They have not missed the playoffs since 1989-90, a remarkable streak when you consider how much other teams have turned over trying to build their perfect roster. Over the course of the last 22 years they have gone over 100 points in a season an incredible 16 times!

This year was when everyone thought that the inevitable (you would think) might be starting. Not quite as dominant through the shortened 48 game schedule, they squeaked into the playoffs as the 7th seed, beating out the Columbus Blue Jackets in a back and forth that went right to the last day (Minnesota would capture 8th by regulation wins over the Jackets). After a thrilling seven game series against the Anaheim Ducks that saw Detroit win a game seven on the road, they were matched up versus the top seeded Chicago Blackhawks. Would Detroit show their age and wilt under pressure? Hardly and quite the opposite actually.

They took a seemingly commanding three games to one lead over the eventual Stanley Cup champions before losing three straight, including a game seven in overtime in what could be considered the marquee series of the entire post-season.

This season, the realignment stars send Detroit to the Eastern conference, where they now become a new problem for teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and our very own New York Islanders. I think it’s safe to say every team in the Western conference is not shedding a tear at the move.

Losing Valtteri Filppula and Carlo Colaiacovo in the off-season is not going to effect Detroit as much on the roster as they continued their front office dominance by signing Daniel Alfreddson from Ottawa and grabbing Stephen Weiss from Florida. At the present time, they are bound to almost certainly lose Damien Brunner and are trying to free up cap space to sign Daniel Cleary, who has no desire to leave Detroit. And of course, captain Henrik Zetterberg and dangle master Pavel Datsyuk still lead the offensive charge.

Defensively, the Wings still have room to grow and mature with youngsters Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Danny DeKeyser looking to continue their ascension to top NHL blueliners.

In goal, its still about Jimmy Howard, coming off another stellar season in the pipes, posting a 2.13 GAA and .923 save percentage. Jonas Gustavsson was signed from Toronto in the off-season to back up Howard.

I cannot wait to see the Wings and Bruins battle for division supremacy. It has entertaining written all over it. As we have seen over the past 22 years, never count Detroit out, no matter how many chips seem to be stacked against them.

We took a minute and engaged the editor of Octopus Thrower, our Detroit Red Wings site on the Fansided network and asked him 3 questions pertaining to the Wings off-season. Peter Fish was gracious enough to provide us with his insights……

1. Some felt, with their young defense, the Red WIngs overachieved this season. What is your opinion of those claims?

Overachieving would mean that they played above their skill level and that is just not true. Jakub Kindl, who was one of the most consistent defenseman on the blue line, made huge strides in his progression this season and you could see happen from game to game, Brendan Smith was one of the best prospects in the Wings system and in the NHL last season, Danny DeKeyser was courted by 29 out of 30 NHL teams once the Western Michigan Broncos were knocked out of the NCAA Playoffs, and Brian Lashoff well he just came out of no where and played his heart out. All of these players have serious talent and if they “overachieved” this season then boy are they going to “overachieve” to an even high degree next season.

2. What is the Wings biggest off-season need and how do you think they can fill it?

The Red Wings need a consistent, talented, a big scoring threat. Johan Franzen fills that role a bit and Justin Abdelkader could be that player next season, but I don’t think Wing fans are completely sold on him. The other big need could be a second line center, if Valtteri Fippula decides to leave in the offseason it will leave a big gap for the Wings to fill.

*EDITORS NOTE (question was asked prior to the start of free agency, and Fish was dead on accurate in discussing the future of Fippula)

 

3. Detroit is making a much publicized move to the Eastern Conference next season. Thoughts on how that plays out in terms of match-ups and what adjustments, if any, the Wings might have to make.

The match-up are going to be fantastic, the Toronto rivalry will be back in full swing and a perfect lead up to the Winter Classic. I don’t see Detroit making many personnel adjustments, there is the sigma that the West isn’t as physical as the East so the Red Wings would have to get bigger, but we were in a conference with the Blues, Hawks, Predators, and Blue Jackets who all played a very physical game. I expect the Wings to continue to play their game and keep their streak alive next season.

 

We would like to thank Peter for taking the time to speak with us and wish the Wings luck (although not too much) as they slide over to the Islanders conference this season.

 

-AG (@tazman19)

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