“What is your greatest weakness?” It’s that one question you can always expect when going in for a job interview. Luckily for the Detroit Red Wings, there was no interview process for changing conferences, so instead I will try to answer that dreaded question for them.
I’ll leave out corny promotion videos because that joke would just be too easy.
History in Hockeytown
Everyone knows the Red Wings are in search of their 23rd straight postseason appearance and it puts a huge target on their back. Last season, when the team was a loss away from breaking the historic streak, Jimmy Howard had this to say, “The streak means a lot to all of us. It just says how high the bar was set before us. It’s good for us to have high expectations and lofty goals.”
It’s like a hitting streak in baseball; the pressure builds each game until the batter finally goes hitless. In this analogy the Wings are well past Joe DiMaggio’s record, making a new record each game they get a hit (make the playoffs).
My point is that no sports franchise has ever had to face this kind of pressure in order to continue their success before, making it a great weakness to have in Hockeytown.
That would have been my go-to answer but here are two more solid answers that also apply.
Lack of Experience
The Red Wings are looking to start six players under the age of 25: Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Danny Dekeyser, Brian Lashoff, and Brendan Smith. You have three forwards that should make up the third line along with nearly half the defensemen.
It’s possible that the Wings could have 5 skaters on the ice at one time with less experience combined then Daniel Alfredsson has (17 years). Now that’s a scary thought.
Inexperience will create costly turnovers, but there is a positive trade-off in the form of energy. Younger players are more energetic and play at a faster speed. It’s a valuable asset to have if you want to shift the momentum during a game.
Some games they’re going to look like the future of the organization that they are, while other nights we will be wishing Steve Yzerman and Nick Lidstrom could come out of retirement to show them how to play Red Wings hockey.
It’s rolling the dice; they could be heroes or scapegoats at any time this season.
Pressure between the Pipes
Jimmy Howard has 31.8 million reasons to be great this season after getting his six-year contract extension. It’s well-earned after he carried the team through last season with a 21-13-7 record with 2.13 goals against per game. He was the key reason why the Wings lasted as long as they did in the playoffs.
Motown has always been critical of our goaltenders and Howard is no exception. We are quick to throw them under the bus and slow to give them praise. That’s just Detroit; Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek went through the same process. In addition, the United States national team will be keeping a close eye on Howard as he is competing for a spot on the 2014 Olympic roster in Sochi.
No pressure. Really, I’m rooting for Jimmy. But if the pressure does get to him he will become our greatest weakness.