Don't Forget the Wings...

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Currently, there are a lot of great things going on in the sports world. We have enjoyed an extremely exciting NFL season that may culminate with a historic finish on Sunday. The Pistons are once again one of the elite teams in a wide open NBA, and our Spartans basketball team has gotten off to the best start in program history, but there is one league that everyone has obviously forgotten about. That is the NHL.

The NHL lost a large portion of their fans with the lockout and cancellation of the 2004-05 season. A lot has changed in the game. The league now has a salary cap, goalie pads have been made smaller to increase scoring, and the implementation of the shootout has added some excitement to the end of games. Even with all of the changes, one thing has definitely not changed, and that is the success of the Detroit Red Wings.

This is a completely different Red Wings team than the ones that won title in 1997, 1998, and 2002. Some of the same players remain, but the identity of the team has changed. Even though the Wings are loaded with talent, one of their downfalls in recent years has been their lack of toughness. In previous seasons, the Red Wings have lacked players like Aaron Ward, Joey Kocur, Darren McCarty, and Martin Lapointe. Kirk Maltby and Tomas Holmstrom are still on the roster, but they are not the same players as they once were.

Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, and Brendan Shanahan are long gone. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Valtteri Filppula are three young guys that enable the Wings to have a bright future. Veterans like Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Chelios make for a perfect mix of young and old.

Even though this team has struggled in the postseason lately, I do believe that this team will win the Stanley Cup this season. Ken Holland has done a great job of trying to infuse this roster with some tough guys. Tough guys like Johan Franzen, and one of my favorite players Dan Cleary make this team a much more formidable opponent in the playoffs. The Red Wings were up 2-0 against the eventual champions Anaheim before losing two straight. I believe that this team will take the next step.

The goaltending has been stellar as well. Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek is the best one-two punch in the net, in the NHL. They are both well over 200 years old now, but they give the Wings steady play in the net. The Wings are pretty much guaranteed to win the Presidents’ Trophy again, and hopefully they will have a good showing in the playoffs. A lot of people have soured on the NHL, but it is a pretty good idea to watch this team play. They are exciting to watch.

Hockey is a much better sport to watch in person, and the television coverage of the game has been reduced greatly, but try to tune in and watch some games from time to time. There are great players in this league that many people have not heard of. It’s not just Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. It is hard for us in Michigan to see a lot of these players because the Red Wings play teams like Columbus and Minnesota 40 times a year. I just hope the NHL changes the way they make the schedules, so we can see teams like the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, and Rangers come to Detroit every year.

Just keep in mind, after the Super Bowl, after March Madness, and just as the Pistons get ready to embark on another playoff run, tune in to watch the Red Wings in the unpredictable Stanley Cup Playoffs.