Wednesday, October 8, 2008

NHL Blogging: Drop the Puck

It's going to be a bad year for sports.

The Lions are, well, they're bad even for the Lions. And that's saying something. Even the warm knowledge that Millen's finally been held to account for his poor performance doesn't help. The damage's alredy been done, firing him midway into the season is like firing the pilot after the airplane has crashed. It feels good but it's not going to change anything.

The Tigers failed to make the playoffs despite high expectations and an even higher payroll. It's likely they'll be paring back their roster over the winter and also losing aging pieces of that now distant run in 2006, like Rogers and Jones. They look to be settling into a groove of being good but not great for a while. At least, not great enough to challenge for a title any time soon.

The Pistons are on the down side of that slope. Their window with their current core is coming to an end – although the future does look bright with players like Maxiell and Stuckey. And, who knows, Dumars might even work his magic touch again and revive Kwame Brown's career. If not, well, at least it's an inexpensive gambit. The Pistons are competitive and are going to be so for at least a few more years but, at this point, you know what to expect: 50+ wins, a playoff berth, and an exit against a team that's just ever so slightly better and hungrier than they are. In other words, a valiant effort but still a disappointment.

Even my beloved Wolverines are having an off year. Mired in rebuilding for the future with coach Rod. They'll have to struggle to even reach .500 and while that might be enough to earn a bowl bid, it's not enough to satisfy this Michigan man.

The sole saving grace is the Red Wings. They captured the Cup this summer after all, and might just do it again this year. But therein lies the problem – it's really hard to win back to back titles in the NHL. They've done it before and they, at this point, have to be the odds on favorites once again but the road to the Stanley Cup is a long and winding grind. So, it's likely that the Wings won't be able to match last seasons heights and, again, disappoint.'s hard not to feel optimistic.

They added Hossa to a team that didn't really need to get any better. Not only is he a top-tier talent, he's the sort of veteran still searching for a Cup that the team loves to add for the chemistry element.

They can now roll two great lines with Datsyuk and Hossa on one and Zetterberg and Franzen on the other. Add Holmstrom into the mix

Draper's still an excellent fourth line center whose faceoff skills will pay untold dividends.

The blueline continues to look rock solid with the peerless Lidstrom having found a great counterpart in Raffalski. Kronwall really came into his own last season, finally living up to his promise and giving the Wings the physical, nasty edge from the defense corps that they've lacked ever since losing Konstantinov.

They're so deep and so loaded with talent that they're sending down to the minors guy like Helm and Leino who'd be starting on almost every other team in the league.

Their biggest questions, as usual, are in goal. But the picture there is much better than it was at this time last year.

Osgood starts off the season as the number one goaltender. But he's got enough young talent behind him that he can't get complacent. And enough critics still dogging him that he'll still be eager to prove them wrong. Again.

Conklin's a great pick-up as a back-up. Quality journeyman who'll look even better with the Wings in front of him.

And if all else fails, Howard's waiting in the wings.

It looks like it's going to be another 100 point year. But unlike the last few years, it doesn't seem like it's going to be one that's destined to end in a first round exit.

Maybe this year won't be so bad after all.

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