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Wings will stick with scoring over fighting

Moving to the 'tougher' Eastern Conference doesn't chance Wings' philosophy

Wednesday, 10.2.2013 / 6:42 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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Wings will stick with scoring over fighting

Agitator Jordin Tootoo led the Red Wings with eight fighting majors last season. Detroit is moving into the Atlantic Division with four teams that were among the league-leaders in fights. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – The Red Wings haven’t been a pugnacious team for several decades.

And why should they?

General manager Ken Holland hasn’t felt the need to employ a hired gun to run amuck, even though some living room GMs think the Red Wings need a pugilist if they’re to survive in the new Atlantic Division with Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Ottawa and Buffalo.

“There’s going to be the odd situation and the odd night where we’ll probably wish we had a one-dimensional tough guy,” Holland said. “But I think it’s more important to try to have in those bottom three guys players who can kill some penalties and maybe take some hard minutes away from our top players. If they can do that and chip in a few goals, I think we’re going to be a better team.”

After all, it’s scoring that wins games, not fighting, which is why the Red Wings like having guys like Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar and Patrick Eaves zipping around on the fourth line creating scoring chances.

“I’m more concerned about our scoring,” Holland said. “I think at the end of the day, when you build your team, on that fourth line, there’s a bunch of different ways you can go. We think they’re guys that can chip in offensively.”

And it’s the offense that will get the Wings to the postseason in the new and unknown re-alignment world.

“I think last year of the top 10 teams in fighting majors,” Holland said, “only four of them made the playoffs.”

A little checking and the Wings’ GM is right, only the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Senators and Canucks reached the postseason after finishing in the top 10 in fighting majors. Collectively, the four playoff teams had 130 fights last season. The Red Wings had 115 fights – combined – in the last eight seasons!

“We’ll see how it goes,” Holland said. “Ideally, I’d like to have (Martin) Lapointe, (Darren) McCarty and (Brendan) Shanahan in the middle of our lineup, but that’s not the case.”

But not everybody in the league defines toughest the same way, for example, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, who thinks the Red Wings are plenty tough, in their own sort of way.

“Toughness isn’t always about fighting. I think there seems to be a misrepresentation about what team toughness is,” Carlyle said. “Team toughness means to take a check to make a play, block a shot, get in the way of people in the tough areas of the ice and earn your space. And they do a good job of that.

“I don’t think that you can say that they don’t play a tough brand of hockey.”

For Buffalo tough guy Steve Ott, the Red Wings are an anomaly, which every team in the NHL wishes it could be.

“The success that they’ve had as an organization here is phenomenal,” he said. “They’ve had success, they have a veteran team that’s gelled and continued to win and be at the top of the league for every single year. It’s going to be great for the young guys in our lineup to see what it takes to be that good.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80