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Wings have look of (another) champion

Friday, 11.7.2008 / 5:05 PM ET / Features
By Larry Wigge  - NHL.com Columnist
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Wings have look of (another) champion
In today's world, everything comes with a disclaimer. You know. "Beware ...

Even the Stanley Cup comes with a warning, especially if you want to repeat as the NHL champions. "Winning one championship is difficult. Winning twice is twice as difficult," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland recently said.

"It's a hard thing to do," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom agreed. "You've got to have a hungry group of veterans and young guys who are on the same page."

Coach Mike Babcock won't let his team forget how hard last season's October to June marathon was to complete.

"It's a journey. We know because we've been through it. Baby steps ... keep on keepin' on," Babcock explained. "We didn't win last year because of our skill. We won because we worked hard.

"You don't just turn it on. There's no switch. You have to earn the right to feel good about yourself ... and that doesn't automatically carry over from one season to another."
 
Good memories. Accomplishments you'd like to build on. Attention to details. All the other hard-work anecdotes. All true. But repeat? Hmmmm.

Since the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back in 1991 and '92, the only team in the ensuing 15 seasons to repeat was the Red Wings in 1997 and '98.

But these Red Wings are different, and yet they're the same. They talk about competition being built on measuring sticks -- like their 8-2-2 start, including an impressive 6-1-1 on the road. And they are also pointing to another measuring stick -- meeting the Penguins, who the Wings beat for the Cup last spring, in Detroit on Tuesday.

"I still see that hunger, that focus in the eyes of the guys on this team," Lidstrom said with a keen "I-want-to-win-another-one" look in his eyes.

This is a championship team that added an all-world forward in Marian Hossa and a capable backup goaltender in Ty Conklin -- both of whom were with the Penguins last season.

"To me, they could have gone anywhere, but the fact they wanted to come to our team says something," Lidstrom said. "On paper, I think we're better with those guys in our lineup.

"I know that doesn't spell victory. But after winning in 1997 and '98 and 2002, I think I've learned that to win again you have to have a unique work ethic and chemistry -- and I'm starting to see chemistry with this team."

With Babcock there to keep his foot on the gas pedal, I'm ready to say the Red Wings are the team to repeat.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89