On New Year’s Day 2014, I found myself standing among a crowd of 100,000 people watching a hockey game at a football stadium in Detroit. It was fun. I couldn’t feel my feet for five hours and I’d do it again in a second.
The Leafs beat the Red Wings that day in a shootout.
Henrik Zetterberg (C) – The soon to be 37-year-old has been in Detroit for what seems like forever. He’s no longer the player that he was, but is coming off a 68-point season – his best since 2011-12.
Dylan Larkin (C) – The 21-year-old Michigan native is the future of the Red Wings. He struggled in his sophomore season last year, putting up 32 points – 13 fewer than his rookie campaign. That being said, he’s still a kid. He’ll figure it out.
Notable: The Red Wings have a glut of players who hover around the 40-50 point range, but no one to join Zetterberg as a primary point producer. Do guys like Tomas Tatar (26) and Anthony Mantha (23) have another gear?
Niklas Kronwall (36) – Like Zetterberg, Kronwall has also been with Detroit forever. He was drafted 29th overall in 2000 and has carved a nice career for himself as a solid defensive presence, as well as an offensive contributor. Injuries have slowed him down in recent seasons, but if he stays healthy, he’s a valuable piece.
Mike Green (31) – Remember when he had back-to-back 70+ point seasons (one of which included 31 goals) with Washington many moons ago? Well, he hasn’t come anywhere close to that level of production in the 7 seasons since, going over 40 points just once.
Notable – Trevor Daley (33), Danny DeKeyser (27)
Jimmy Howard (33) – Howard has started just 57 games over the last two seasons for a variety of reasons. 1. Injuries; 2. Petr Mrazek was better; 3. Howard wasn’t very good. This could be a bounce back season for Howard, but how am I supposed to know that for sure?
Petr Mrazek (25) – I was surprised the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t take him in the expansion draft. I’ve liked Mrazek ever since his appearance at the World Juniors as a 19-year-old, where he wore the #2 and dared to show emotion. He was terrible last season; his GAA was 3.04. He can’t be worse this season.
1. The Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1990. That’s a long time without a high pick in the draft.
2. The team is moving into a new building this season – Little Caesars Arena.
3. The dressing rooms at the new arena are said to be much larger. I’ve seen pictures, it’s basically a horse stable. I’m jealous.
4. One of the amenities at the new arena is an underground treadmill. My legs hurt just thinking about it.
5. The new laundry room has 3 washing machines (an upgrade from 1 at the old arena), and 2 dryers (an upgrade from 1).
I’m fascinated by arena amenities if you can’t tell.
WHAT CHRIS THINKS
Detroit will be interesting to watch to see how they respond to missing the playoffs for the first time in 26 years.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
The Red Wings finished 14th in the Eastern Conference last season, which was weird. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are like roast beef without gravy when the Red Wings aren’t involved. It just doesn’t feel right.
The team is in a rebuilding stage and had a pick in the top 10 (9th – Michael Rasmussen) of the NHL Draft this year for the first since 1991. They won 4 Cups since then, proving that they don’t need a top pick in order to find gems.
Will a new arena and all the new amenities give them a boost? Perhaps.
The goaltenders need to be on top of their game this season. They allowed the 5th most goals in the NHL last season.
The offense gave them no help, either, as they were ranked 24th in “Goals For”.
If there is any franchise in the NHL who could weasel themselves into a playoff spot, it’s the Detroit Red Wings. So I won’t count that possibility out, I just think it’ll be extremely tough.
ONE WILD PREDICTION
Dylan Larkin will record at least 60 points this season.