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Red Wings ignore the naysayers

Monday, 09.21.2009 / 11:47 AM ET / News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer
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Red Wings ignore the naysayers
The Red Wings have heard just about enough out of the nitpickers.

Mention Chris Osgood's sub-par 2008-09 regular-season or the Wings' troublesome penalty kill and you're opening the door for the players to bring up the League-best 289 goals they scored and, oh yeah, the small fact that they got to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, missing back-to-back championships by a single goal.

"We still made it almost all the way," superstar center Henrik Zetterberg told NHL.com.

Go ahead and mention the departures of Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky, Ty Conklin and Chris Chelios. But be prepared to hear all about future stars like Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino, not to mention returning veterans Todd Bertuzzi and Jason Williams.

"We didn't have spots for them before, and now they're ready to go," Zetterberg said.

You might be thinking that no team since the Edmonton Oilers of the mid-1980s has played in three straight Stanley Cup Finals. While you contemplate that, the Red Wings will continue their preparations for another very short summer.

"This is the way the summer is supposed to be," Zetterberg said. "It's supposed to be two months because you want to go as far as possible. Spending six weeks in the gym is good enough. You don't have to be there for 12 weeks."

You might not find a team more comfortable in its own skin than the one that calls Joe Louis Arena home. That kind of self-confidence will be essential this season because, well, the nitpickers aren't going away.

Fine by us, the Red Wings say.
For us there are no question marks whatsoever. We are just anxious to get back on the ice and get started again. We played a lot of games, but we also played in a lot of big games and that's just going to help us. - Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall

"For us there are no question marks whatsoever," defenseman Niklas Kronwall told NHL.com. "We are just anxious to get back on the ice and get started again. We played a lot of games, but we also played in a lot of big games and that's just going to help us."

How, though, do the Wings plan on replacing, among other things, Hossa's 40 goals, Samuelsson on the point on the power play, Hudler's 57 points and Chelios' experience?

It's a fair question, and it gets asked a lot. But the answer is quite simple.

"The core guys are still here," Zetterberg said. "Nothing has really changed other than switching out a few guys and bringing some new guys in (Bertuzzi, Williams, Patrick Eaves)."

Are you worried that all those games played eventually will take a toll? Between regular season and playoffs, The Wings has played 209 over the past two seasons and has at least another 82 staring them in the face.

"We get that question a lot; people saying the summer is too short and blah, blah," Zetterberg said. "We're used to this. It would feel real strange if we had a longer summer."

OK, but seriously, let's discuss that porous penalty kill from a season ago. It was just 78.3 percent, 25th in the NHL, and it got worse in the playoffs by roughly five percentage points.

That, at least, has to be a concern, right?

"It's a focal point," Zetterberg said, then added, "Last year we had a setback with that, especially in the beginning. Teams scored way too much on us and that's one thing we need to adjust. That was the first thing we talked about in training camp."

Kronwall, though, turned into a nitpicker when he was asked about the PK.

"Sure, we almost went the whole way anyway, but we feel if we would have had a better PK we could have won it all," he said. "It's the small details like that that will decide it at the end. It's something we want to focus on at the start of the year."

But if the PK gets better, well, the nitpickers just will find something else to latch on to.

"We don't pay that much attention to what people say about us," Zetterberg said. "One thing that makes us better is we're never happy. We never think we're good enough. There are always things we can improve on and the coaching staff is really good finding those things."




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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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