Thursday, November 8, 2007

NHL Blogging: The Red Hot Wings

So, the Wings won again last night. Their seventh in a row. Zetterberg's set a club record with points in fifteen straight game.

Lost in all the fuss over the Senator's undoubtedly impressive, record setting 13-1-0 start has been the news that the Red Wings aren't doing so bad either. Heading into last night they were only three points behind Ottawa's pace with a 11-2-1 record. Now, having played one more game they're a mere point and victory behind. More importantly, the two are just as close when it comes to goal differentials and goals against.

Detroit's only losses came against the Ducks, which is understandable, and the Blackhawks, which is less so. All coming with Hasek in goal. Since he's been out with a hip injury, Osgood's backstopped the team with a perfect 8-0 record. So, of course, now that Hasek's returning to the lineup they're going to shelve Osgood in favor of Hasek. Which points out the main problem with this young season.

As has so often been the case with the Wings it's the goaltending that's the big question mark. Heading into the season in the epic season preview that I conveniently forgot to post, I thought that bringing back a Hasek who was a year older and having Osgood as his main backup was a disaster waiting to happen (It also happened to be the best move available to the Wings since there weren't any great goalies on the market. And trading for one is difficult even without cap issues.). The Dominator stayed healthy last year but he's increasingly creaky and a shadow of his former glory.

Still, this is shaping up to be another stellar regular season. From what I can see when I can manage to figure out where in the upper stratosphere of my cable dial the game's located, the Wings are playing much better this year. Tougher. Grittier. Infused with a passion, a willingness to get their hands dirty that's been lacking. The team still feels hollow. Emptied of the lore and legends of the past decade now that Yzerman and that core have faded away. And the attendance figures show the city's apathy just as much as they reveal the state's economic woes. But if they keep playing like this then these Wings are going to be writing their own glory filled tails.

Of course, the regular season means nothing in a city as spoiled with sports achievements as Detroit (Really, only Boston's having a better year. But only because their teams have turned into their own version of the evil empire.). We can't even say the Lions are abysmal anymore. The real test will be the playoffs. The Wings need more than just a good, solid run. They need to get that Cup. And I'm not sure that they can with their current team. Not without that standout goalie who can turn into a heating element at the right moment.

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