After years of regular season greatness and playoff disappointment, the Red Wings claimed hockey’s top prize for the fourth time in a little more than decade.
2007-08: 54-21-7, 115 points (first in Central)
PLAYOFFS:Stanley Cup champions
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Well, Daniel Cleary established a career high with 42 points. What, that wasn’t the biggest development in Hockeytown? OK, there was this moment. On a more serious note, the model franchise in the NHL for the past decade (regardless of economic system) was the dominant team all season long. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were one of the top 1-2 punches in the league, and Nicklas Lidstrom maintained his status as the best defenseman on the planet. His countryman Niklas Kronwall gained plenty of notoriety with his open-ice hits during the playoffs. One surprise was Chris Osgood’s ascension to No. 1 status in net.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Obviously not a lot, but there was a point late in the regular season when injuries besieged the defense corps and the Red Wings became mortal. Dominik Hasek and Chris Chelios probably didn’t like being reduced to cheerleaders during the Cup finals, but they didn’t act up about it.
ARRIVALS:RW Marian Hossa, G Ty Conklin
DEPARTURES: G Dominik Hasek, RW Dallas Drake, D Chris Chelios?
IMPACT PROSPECTS: C Daren Helm, D Jakub Kindl, G Jimmy Howard
Who does Hossa play with?
Oh yeah, and after the Winged Wheel won another Cup, GM Ken Holland won an offseason title by picking up the top player on the market and a quality backup goalie at bargain prices, as well as retaining deadline pickup Brad Stuart. Will Hossa play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg to form the best line in hockey, or will he skate on the second line to give the Wings two great units?
Will complacency be a factor?
This is more of a question for the regular season, but there could be indicators one way or another in camp. No team has repeated since the Red Wings last did it 11 years ago, but there will be plenty of people picking them to do so.
PROGNOSIS: It is tough for a franchise to head into a season where anything less than a Stanley Cup will likely be considered a disappointment, but such is the fate for these Red Wings. Mike Babcock’s crew is loaded – even better than last year’s group on paper – and a second straight Cup could be forthcoming. Guys like Hossa and Helm could give the group an extra boost of energy, but the biggest drama during this regular season could be any snags in contract extension talks with Zetterberg and/or Hossa.
|Henrik Zetterberg||Pavel Datsyuk||Marian Hossa|
|Tomas Holmstrom||Valtteri Filppula||Johan Franzen|
|Daniel Cleary||Kris Draper||Mikael Samuelsson|
|Kirk Maltby||Jiri Hudler||Darren Helm/Tomas Kopecky|
|Nicklas Lidstrom||Brian Rafalski|
|Niklas Kronwall||Brad Stuart|
|Andreas Lilja||Brett Lebda|
|Jonathan Ericsson||Derek Meech/Jakub Kindl|
|Ty Conklin/Jimmy Howard|
*NOTE: This is not necessarily an attempt to guess line combinations