Atlantic Division scouting report: Red Wings
|08.22.13 at 2:43 pm ET|
This season will be the first with the NHL’s realigned conferences and divisions, meaning the days of the Northeast Division are over and the Bruins will have some new rivals in the Atlantic Division. Over the coming days, WEEI.com will look at the Bruins’ divisional opponents, new and old.
We’ll start by looking at the only team in the Atlantic that’s coming over from the old Western Conference, which is the Red Wings. The Bruins will play Detroit four times this season, with two of their first five games of the season coming against the Red Wings.
Under the new format of the NHL, the top three teams from each division make the playoffs, with the two teams with the next-highest point totals getting the final two spots. Detroit shouldn’t worry about grabbing one of those two extra spots, as they figure to contend for one of the top two or three berths in the division.
WHAT THEY ARE
A perennial contender with a lot of skill on offense. They finished 20th in scoring in a shortened season that general managers throughout the league have said was impossible to properly assess, but they finished seventh in the league with 2.92 goals per game in 2011-12 and second with 3.13 goals per game in 2010-11. The additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss should help them move away from last year’s relatively low offensive output and get back near the top of the league in the scoring department.
No team can truly recover from losing Nicklas Lidstrom, which the Wings did prior to last season, but Detroit still finished with 2.29 goals allowed per game in 2013, which was fifth-lowest in the league. They can thank steady defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has played in every game the last two seasons, and former UMaine goaltender Jimmy Howard for that.
All in all, the Red Wings are a balanced team that shouldn’t expect its very lengthy playoff streak (see below) come to an end any time soon. They should challenge the likes of the Bruins and Canadiens for the top spot in the division in the coming years.
The Red Wings finished third in the Central Division in 2013. In clinching the seven seed, they made the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season, a span that has seen four Stanley Cup championships for Detroit.
As for the Red Wings’ stay in the playoffs, one can’t help but wonder how it affected the Bruins’ bid for the Stanley Cup. After eliminating the second-seeded Ducks in the conference quarterfinals, Detroit took the eventual champion Blackhawks to the brink of elimination by taking a 3-1 series. The Blackhawks marched back to win the series, with Brent Seabrook notching the dagger in overtime of Game 7 to eliminate the Red Wings.
Before free agency started, the Red Wings gave Pavel Datsyuk a three-year extension. The prize of Detroit’s offseason was Alfredsson, who chose the Red Wings’ group of Swedish players (Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Kronwall, among others) over the Bruins’ perceived better shot at the Stanley Cup. The contract is for $5.5 million, but because he is over 35, the sides were able to structure a team-friendly deal (a la Jarome Iginla with the Bruins) with a $3.5 million cap hit and an additional $2 million for an easily attainable bonus (10 games played).
The Red Wings also brought in Weiss, the longtime Panthers forward, with a five-year, $24.5 million deal. Their biggest loss was forward Valtteri Filppula, who left Detroit in free agency for a big payday with the Lightning in the form of a five-year, $25 million deal.
‘¢ The Red Wings and Bruins have met 579 times, with the Red Wings holding the edge with 249 wins, 234 losses, 95 ties and one overtime loss.
The last time the teams met, Detroit beat the B’s in a shootout the day after Thanksgiving in 2011. The game snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Bruins. Datsyuk scored this goal.
‘¢ Speaking of Datsyuk, he’s super awesome at hockey. It will be a treat for hockey fans to see the three-time Selke winner in the division, with Patrice Bergeron also contending for the award as the league’s top defensive forward each year (he won it 2011-12).
During a playoff game in 2012, Pierre McGuire called David Krejci “Boston’s version of Pavel Datsyuk.” Krejci called Datsyuk the best player in the world, while Zdeno Chara thought highly enough of him to make him his first pick in the 2012 fantasy draft to determine All-Star Game teams.
‘¢ The Red Wings’ 22-season playoff streak is the fifth-longest in the history of the NHL. The longest such streak was by the Bruins, who reached the playoffs in 29 straight seasons from 1967 to 1996.
Detroit’s streak is the longest active one. The next-longest is that of the Sharks, who have made the playoffs in nine straight seasons. The B’s have been in the postseason for the last six seasons, which is tied for the fourth-longest active streak.
‘¢ The presence of the Red Wings in a division with the Bruins, Canadiens and Maple Leafs makes the Atlantic the most Original 6 heavy division with four such teams. The Rangers are in the Metropolitan Division, while the Blackhawks (Central) are now the only Original 6 team in the Western Conference.