Morning Wilderness! We continue our NHL preview series this morning with a look at a team we are all a little bit more familiar with than the previous teams. Detroit is making the jump from the
Best Western Conference over to the Eastern Conference, where they can be a pain for some other teams for once. J.J From Kansas, the man with all the power over at Winging it in Motown, gives a little preview about the Red Wings.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg should continue leading the Red Wings' offense, leaving Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson to the "secondary scorer" definitions. Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, and Jakub Kindl are all expected to put up points from the back end, while Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar provide the depth scoring at forward.
The same three offensive heroes are the team's best defenders. Multiple-Selke winner Datsyuk leads the way with Henrik Zetterberg able to shut down other teams' best forwards. Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson make up the Wings' top pair and make up a good combination of transition-ending open-ice hits and big-bodied net-front clearance.
It's hard to tell who the unsung heroes will be at this point because the Wings will probably need to clear a couple of them off their roster. If he survives the roster/cap purge, Patrick Eaves should pair with Drew Miller to eat up big PK minutes while taking over the low-line grinder/energy role that teams need.
The Wings are set for a starter with Jimmy Howard, who gives quality starts and showed last season he could handle more of a grueling schedule than he'll play this season. Unfortunately, he had to show that he could handle that because the Wings' backup situation was a mess. Jonas Gustavsson couldn't stay healthy and when he could, he wasn't terribly good at that whole stopping pucks thing.
Mike Babcock rules.
The Wings are consistently ranked by neutral sources to have good prospect depth. I think that with Tatar and Nyquist with the big club this year, there's a one or two-year gap at forward before they have real NHL ready scoring prospects like Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco, and Martin Frk. They've got a few grinders in the system who could take on that role this season if needed. On the defensive side, there's also a short-term gap between guys like Ryan Sproul or Xavier Ouellet and being ready to take on NHL caliber competition. In goal, I don't remember the last time the Wings had a prospect in their system who excited fans as much as Petr Mrazek does.
How do you feel about the depth of your team?
I'm very happy with Detroit's depth. They have players able to step into top six roles in the event of injury and they've got more than enough guys capable of holding their own against NHL-level competition.
Who are your fan favorites, and why are they favorites?
Pavel Datsyuk is probably the funniest guy in the league right now and he's awesome at hockey. Combine this with wearing the best sweater in the league and he's easily the fan favorite. For the non-superstar favorites, people really like Patrick Eaves and he's really cool about it. Darren Helm is also beloved for playing like this.
Who are must follow writers on twitter for your team?
The whole WIIM crew for starters.
@Wingingitmotown is the site's account.
@GrahamWIIM for Graham, our very own Amerinadian
@JeffHancock41, for the 41st-best Jeff Hancock on all of Twitter
@TheTripleDeke is hilarious
@slapshotg0al for Michelle, the weird one
@NeubacherC for Christian/Detroitnr1
@JHowardDesign does all our photochop stuff
@JJfromKansas for stuff I don't think is appropriate for the WIIM feed.
Also, there's @georgemalik for a ton of the more newsy stuff, as well as @TPLhockey and @ansarkhanmlive for the better of the beat writesr.
Who are must follow fans? (preferably non-crazy fans)
@Whoabot is great, as is @Lolabythebay