Thursday, September 3, 2009

A little roundtable about the Central Division

Matt from a View From My Seats was kind enough, or perhaps I should say drunk enough, to allow me to participate in his Central Division Roundtable. Oh yes, if you haven't yet checked it out he has brought together a blogger from each of the 30 teams and asked them a series of questions. Well actually I should clarify, he does in fact have two Wings bloggers for the roundtable today. Myself and The Chief. And yes, that leaves me even more concerned about his state of mind when he asked me to participate but I'll take it. Either way, I'm beginning to wonder if Matt, a self proclaimed Kings fan actually has a little soft spot for Wings, maybe he's coming to the dark side....

Anywho, be sure to check it out, it's worth the read.

Below are my answers.

Why is your team going to be better than they were last year?

Well despite the fact that the MSM have already predicted the demise of the Red Wings dynasty, and a certain Pensblog twitted or maybe more appropriately for them twatted that the Wings will fail to make the playoffs, I think they are underestimating this team of champions. This failure of other teams to respect their superiors will certainly make watching the Wings piss in Bettman’s cereal once again that much more delightful and rewarding. Oh I know I sound like a cocky, pompous, arrogant, elitist Red Wings fan, but suck it. Call me a douchbag bastard if you will, but the Wings will once again finish the regular season at the top. We fans have a lot to be excited about. Let’s begin with the obvious, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Osgood, Franzen, Kronwall….oh you know the lists goes on. They have some of the best players in the league compiled on one team, and the kicker is they know how to win. Sure Hossa jumped ship quicker than a college freshman loses their morality, but he doesn’t seem to be clutch when necessary so quite frankly I was ok to see him and his butt buddy Kopecky go. Actually when Kopecky left I performed an Andy Bernard inspired dance in the middle of my cube, trust me Chicago by the end of the season you’ll understand. Anywho, I digress, many of the Wings best players are reaching their prime while their veterans are still strong contributors and difference makers. Ummm the day you begin betting against the abilities of the superhuman, the super Swede that is Nick Lidstrom is the day you deserve to be, well, Kronwalled.

Even if we ignore the veteran talent and experience that packs the Wings locker room, there are multiple young players ready to step up and prove themselves to the organization. It’s hard to crack the Wings line up but this year Leino, Helm, and Ericsson will all enjoy a full NHL season and will make the most of it. This may be one of greatest factors contributing to a better 2010 Red Wings – some young talent with just the right amount of energy. Leino is certain to bring in a great deal of offensive talent and play making abilities. Darren Helm personally bent the Chicago Blackhawks powerplay unit over with what I affectionately call “the kill.” Ericsson, the seemingly 9 foot tall Swedish beast, will be sending the fear through the hearts of forwards and their mothers’ league wide. It’s an exciting time to watch the Wings meld their core with the new young players.

And yet if that still weren’t enough of a reason to be excited and expect more from the Wings, there is the motivation to regain what is rightfully theirs. Oh I said it. All the little whinny bitches out there salivating over the possibility of a Wings downfall, you will be disappointed. This team is ready to once again cause Crosby to go running and crying into Mario and Bettman’s arms wondering why, why life is so unfair. They have the number one motivation. To prove that last year was a fluke compounded by injuries and a cup hangover. Something of theirs was taken away, and they’ll get it back.

What part of your team scares the hell out of you this season?

Now despite the fact that my first answer may have come off a wee bit cocky if you will, there are still a number of things that scare the hell out of me. Oh yes some issues may cause me to experience the fear Kane had when he bitched out and skated away after the big bad Franzen stole his mouthguard and still other issues may cause family and friends to lock me away under observation for a few days while I rock back and forth and sort my animal crackers by species. What can I say I am full of contradictions when it comes to the Red Wings this season.

They lost a great deal of offensive power, there is no getting around that and it was a frightening kick to the balls. Instead we now have Jason “I’d rather rot away in mediocrity in Columbus” Williams and Todd “I have more baggage than a jilted lover” Bertuzzi. Yeah that last one still stings. I’m excited about the core of the team, but the new players brought in and the young guys coming up for their first full season will have a lot of challenges. It scares the hell out of me that this could be a rebuilding year full of frustrations and the loss of the Central Divison.

We then have the possibility of pure and utter exhaustion. Multiple years of serious ass kicking and ball stomping is bound to take it’s toll. Add in an Olympic year plus two consecutive finals appearances, will they have enough gas to get through this? Will the team once again find the switch they’re sure to need in the playoffs? Exhaustion is a possibility.

However, if I am forced to pick the one thing that scares me the most, it would be the goaltending situation. Ozzie cannot afford to have an off regular season again. No “finals hangover” if you will. There is no Conklin to pull him through. Instead he will potentially need to make up for an inconsistent, young goaltender in a do or die situation. The positive, despite perhaps last year’s playoffs, a goalie for the Wings does not need to steal games, he simply needs to do his job.

Every year there are players that break onto the scene as all-stars or even superstars. Sometimes they’re rookies that are expected to be great, sometimes their rookies that shock the world and sometimes they’re younger players that simply come into their own. Who is someone on your team that we should all look to have a breakout season?

Tough question! There are a number of players I could see really stepping up and breaking out. Filppula will finally be getting second line and power play minutes, Kronwall is entering his prime along with the benefit of Lidstrom being a constant mentor, Helm gave us the greatest penalty kill I have personally witnessed, I’m not a crier but that damn kid brought a tear to my eye and warmed this cold heart. But I still think the breakout player will be Ville Leino.

Already a confirmed star and MVP of the Finnish league, Leino put his time in the AHL last season and is ready to prove himself with the big club. During his first game with the Wings last season he had a beautiful wrap around goal against the Captials. Yes he’s ready.

While he still is not aware of what the term backchecking means, (I’m hoping it’s just a language issue and not a lack of defensive ability) I think he will explode offensively and become a strong second line winger. With a little Babcockian ass kicking and discipline mixed with Datsyuk, Filppula, and Zetterberg as possible mentors Leino’s puck handling and play making abilities will allow him to be a difference maker. And quite frankly, with the Wings offensive losses, it’s important for him to step up and lay the Finnish hammer on some unsuspecting defensemen.

We all know that watching a team for 82 games, you start to appreciate things that casual fans won’t necessarily know. Who’s the guy on your team that doesn’t get nearly the respect that he deserves?

While most teams would be happy to have Filppula on their second line I still truly believe he doesn’t get the respect or perhaps I should say notoriety he deserves. True, he has become the pinnacle of male fashion and style in the states with his flowing sun in golden locks, but that’s not enough for this potential Finnish star. This will be the year that he is known for more than his hair, the league and perhaps even Detroit fans take notice of his puck handling and play making abilities.

With Datsyuk and Zetterberg, Detroit’s own Eurotwins, most certainly being reunited on the first line, this gives Filppula the opportunity to increase his minutes while centering the second line. It’s the small little passes and playmaking that make him such a valuable player. Who can forget the pass he made during the 09 Western Conference Finals to Samulesson finally proving to Chicago, that yes you’ve improved, but don’t think you can compete with The Detroit Red Wings…a reality check they soon won’t forget. Most players would have shot the puck but Filppula seems to think one step ahead and has the touch and puck handling skills to back him up. He will be a difference maker for the team this year whether the rest of the league takes notice or not.

Predition time: if you were throwing down some serious money, how do you think the final standings of the Central Division will shake out (1st through 5th)? More importantly, which teams do you think are going to make the playoffs from the Central?

The Detroit Red Wings, oh come on you knew that was coming

The Chicago Blackhawks. Are we ready for an original 6 rivalry returning? With the off season changes made by the Blackhawks and their one year window fully choking them with pressure and expectations, it should be interesting to watch, or should I say enjoyable to observe them flounder when it really counts. Will they make the playoffs? Dammit yes they will. Mother fu……

St. Louis Blues. With the strides made last year they will only continue to grow. Will they make the playoffs? Yes.

Columbus BJs. Hot off their first playoff appearance they have a lot to prove. Led by Nash and young Steve Mason, they should be ready. True the Wings crudely took his playoff virginity last year, but if Mason can have another stellar season, Columbus should make the playoffs.

Nashville Predators. Heh? No I predict they don’t make the playoffs and quite frankly they will probably make me yawn this year.

I'll just end with Go Wings!

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