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Why Wings will win the Stanley Cup

Young depth, winning attitude throughout club has Wings in positive position

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 11:28 AM ET / News
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Why Wings will win the Stanley Cup

These aren't your typical Red Wings of yesteryear preparing to represent Hockeytown in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Still, every current player, no matter how young or old, maintains the championship state of mind on which this franchise has prided itself for the better part of the past two decades.

The Red Wings were able to extend their NHL record of playoff appearances to 23 seasons this year due in large part to the play of call-ups from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids.

It's a credit to the managerial team and scouting staff, the coaches in Grand Rapids and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock after Detroit set an unofficial team record this season for man-games lost to injury.

Babcock refused to make any excuses.

He had no Nicklas Lidstrom anchoring the blue line or a Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom or even a Kirk Maltby to help alleviate some of that late-season pressure. Yet, the Red Wings continued to play that same unrelenting, puck-possession style.

Babcock used 38 different players in lineups this season, and nine of those players made their NHL debut in 2013-14. Fourteen of the players came from the 2013 Calder Cup champion Griffins.

Is that roster building a recipe for success in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Time will tell, but the fact is the Red Wings won three of four games against the Boston Bruins, the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Former Griffins Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have been huge contributors on offense, each topping the 35-point plateau this season.

Their solid play have enabled veterans to rest and overcome various ailments. Top-line center Pavel Datsyuk rejoined the team on April 4 after sitting out almost a month and appears ready for the postseason push alongside right wing Johan Franzen.

David Legwand, Riley Sheahan and Darren Helm bolster the middle of the ice and crafty wings Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Alfredsson, Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Drew Miller and Luke Glendening give Babcock plenty of depth and energy up front.

"We've had a ton of injuries, but I'm tired of talking about that to be honest with you," Babcock said. "The reality is no one seems to get better. We seem to have them and they're key guys, but I've always said each year you find players when you get opportunities like this.

"It's good because they're ready to take people's jobs."

There's also a possibility that captain Henrik Zetterberg could return at some point in the postseason, and that will only strengthen the lineup.

The team has looked to veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall for leadership and some physical play along the back end, while Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser have excelled as second-year standouts on defense. The loss of Jonathan Ericsson (finger surgery) hurts, but the Red Wings have done a respectable job on the back end nonetheless behind the goaltending of Jimmy Howard.

After a patchwork regular season, it no longer matters who is in or out of the lineup. With the minor-league depth and winning attitude present throughout the organization, the Red Wings are in position to win another Stanley Cup under the tutelage of Babcock.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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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