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Red Wings best team in the West?

Mar 29, 2010, 9:45 AM EDT

Babcock.jpgWhen you look at the Eastern Conference, it’s easy to say who the
best teams in the conference are. The Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh
Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres are all firmly entrenched
on a tier well above the rest of the Eastern teams.

Yet when it comes to the West, that’s a tougher nut to crack. Just a
few months back you could say it was San Jose, Colorado, Chicago, Los
Angeles…..but now? The Blackhawks and the Avalanche are stumbling, the
Kings are showing their youth and inexperience and the Sharks are just
now starting to again. So which teams would be the ones to look out for
the most once the playoffs start?

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is unsure himself, per
Dana Wakiji of The Detroit News:

“I think Chicago’s (99 points before hosting Columbus on
Sunday) probably the best team in the West, but San Jose might be,”
Babcock said.

“I guess that’s what I’m trying to say is I don’t
know if you interview 10 people if they’d all give you the same three.
That’s how tight the league is now and obviously with our experience,
if we can get into the tournament, we feel we have a chance.”

Babcock is obviously playing coy here. There’s no doubt that the Red
Wings are playing the best overall hockey in the West right now (perhaps
in the NHL), and as this veteran and experienced team gears up for the
playoffs they are perhaps the one team that nobody wants to face. The
Red Wings have a great chance to move up as high as fifth in the
conference, and could even threaten the Blackhawks for the division
lead.

That such a thing is even possible, after such a slow
start, is remarkable.

There’s still a long way to go before we
call this season a complete comeback. Jimmy Howard could fall apart in
the playoffs and the Red Wings head for an early, first round exit. Or
we could see Detroit threatening for yet another — it’s not fair! –
Stanley Cup. Either outcome wouldn’t surprise me.

  1. 2late2matter - Mar 29, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    The last time I commented, Brandon described the Detroit RW team as “aged” and “tired”, but now calls them “best overall hockey in the West” and a possible “threat to the Blackhawks for the division lead”.
    Which describes it best now, Bradon, old or experienced? And do you really believe (not think) these RW’s can pull another Cup out of their bag? Geez, wouldn’t that be the big surprise…

  2. Brandon Worley - Mar 29, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Actually, that article was asking whether this current team would be Detroit’s last shot before a natural progression took place. It had nothing to do with putting down the current team; it’s obvious that the Red Wings are starting to really build right before the playoffs.
    But is this their last shot? That’s the point of what I was saying three weeks ago.

  3. Wade Dokken - Mar 29, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    The Coyotes have a better record than the Red Wings, and an equal or better record for the end of the year, but no mention?

  4. Wangedwing - Mar 30, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    Brandon, I understand what your trying to do, your asking if this is the last hurrah before this team has to “rebuild” Well, you said yourself a few articles back..they don’t “rebuild” they are constantly “reloading” With the track record of Ken Holland and the rest of the Red Wings brain trust, its been nearly 20 years. Most teams have to rebuild every 5-8 years, as they lose core members, or lose people thru free agency etc (Marion Hossa…won’t it be funny, if once again, the Wings make the Finals, and Marion again hitched his horse to the wrong wagon, I understand he wants a cup, I get it but geez….)
    Your question, I believe is answered in my above statement, My humble opinion is, that the Wings will go deep into the playoffs, Again. That next year will again see them dominate. What have they gained that makes me say this? A true goaltender in Jimmy Howard. The wings have managed to get to the playoffs time and again with “questionable” goal tending. Now they have a truly top notch goalie in Howard. If I’m the rest of the nhl….I’m worried. Osgood is a fine goalie, but, he’s never had the numbers that this rookie has, except in short spurts, Howard’s numbers are for a full season! The only reason, that the Wings were even questioned, in my mind, of making the playoffs was due to injuries, and having younger players (can you say reload) fill in for our stars. Those younger players are our future, and several look to be good enough to play on any other team in the league. Should we get Hurdler back..uh oh. NO, I would definitely not count the Red Wings out of the next 5 years of playoffs. Yes, I’m sure we’ll lose Nick Lidstrom soon..could be this year if they win the cup. We have other aging parts, but, the good news is, with the system that Detroit uses, the coaching they have, and the front office they have, they are geared to be successful still for a long time. So, in answer to your question..no, this is not the Red Wings last hurrah, not even close, and I would expect them to go deep into the finals, against the top teams, they STILL own a winning record against them all..nuff said?

  5. Wangedwing - Mar 30, 2010 at 8:13 AM

    btw. Brandon, I enjoy reading your column, even if I don’t agree with some of your opinions. I’m one Red Wing fan that is not so defensive, and I have to of course admit to my Red Wings bias (been a wing nut since I was 6 and peewee hockey, well, that and I was born and raised in Michigan, heh.) Keep up the good work, and making our hockey minds think.

  6. leftcoastblue - Mar 30, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    But the point of THAT article — even though it was stated as a rhetorical question — still deserves some mockery. Consider that Nick Lidstrom is the only Red Wing near retirement age, and he may play for at least another two years. Yes, there are a few other oldsters — Draper, Maltby — but they are now 4th liners. The rest of the squad is in, or nearing, their primes. They have the best coach in pro hockey, and (arguably) the best front office (GM, scouts, etc.) in all of pro sports.

  7. Jordan - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    The Coyotes are where they are because no one took them seriously to start the season and they jumped a lot of unassuming teams early on. The regular season is a sprint, get as many points as you can, as often as you can, whereas the playoffs are a marathon, long, hard-fought battle, that is as much about dodging injuries and hot goalies as it is about conjuring up some puck-luck. As a team whose roster is virtually playoff experience free, the Coyotes may not be as prepared as some of the other teams in the Western Conference for the playoffs. Mr. Worley is not basing his article off the regular season standings, he’s basing it off the fact that the Red Wings have been on a Roman-esque Crusade run as of late, and are hitting their stride just in time for the playoffs. They’ve gone from ninth in the West to sixth. In a conference that is so deep in talent compared to the Eastern Conference, that’s quite remarkable and it begs the question: Are the “Red Wings the best team in the West?”

  8. Nick Vinegar - May 1, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    Wanged wing is the man. Nuff said.

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