Recently I outlined the Detroit Red Wings greatest weaknesses they will need to overcome this season. So it’s only fair to look at the other end of the spectrum and analyze their strengths as well.
The Magic Man
Do I really have to explain this one? Pavel Datsyuk is the Russian magician, the playmaker; the guy that makes everyone around him better. He led the team in points, goals, and plus/minus rating during the 2012-13 regular season.
When Datsyuk is on the ice everyone holds their breath because you don’t know what he is going to do next. Whatever he does end up doing is usually spectacular. TSN created a bracket at the end of the season to crown the best hockey play of the 2012-13. The final matchup was Pavel Datsyuk vs. Pavel Datsyuk. He is one of the best defensive-minded forwards in the NHL and he is great in the face-off circle as well.
Although he may not be the captain, Datsyuk plays a critical role in leading the Red Wings with his world-class skills and 11 years of experience. Wings’ fans should be ecstatic he signed a three-year extension so we get to continue watching him play through the 2016-17 season.
It’s called “Hockeytown USA” for a reason. Detroit is arguably one of the best sports franchises in North America with 11 Stanley Cups and the longest streak ever for consecutive postseason appearances. The front office knows how to put together a winning team.
Getting great players is only half the battle. The next step is fitting them into the Red Wings’ system which over the past few seasons seems relatively easy with Mike Babcock at the helm. The coaching staff has done a suburb job at taking good players and making them great in this system.
The addition of Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson on any other team would make me question chemistry issues, but with the Wings they both look like great fits on paper. While management has made its fair share of mistakes from time to time (Mike Modano comes to mind) they always seem to find a way to work around mistakes. So let’s say Alfredsson is another Modano; Babcock won’t be afraid to pull the trigger and move players around to take his spot. The same goes with almost every other player on the roster.
The Red Wings put a winning team on the ice, anything less and changes will be made.
Depth in Experience
The Wings still have 6 players on their roster from their 2008 Stanley Cup team: Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Mikael Samuelsson, and Darren Helm. All of whom, with the exception of Samuelsson, will be starters playing critical minutes this season. Throw in Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi and you literally have 8 veterans who can act as coaches on the ice.
As much as I have written about the outstanding talent that the Red Wings have coming up through the organization, they would struggle to develop if these veterans weren’t around. I’m positive that Datsyuk wouldn’t be half the player he is now without positive influence Steve Yzerman had on him while he was coming up through the ranks.
The younger players have a great group of experienced leaders to look up to, and they know it.