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Abel to Yzerman

How Dominant Were The Wings?

from Eric Duhatschek, Scott Burnside and Sean McIndoe,

Of all the assignments we’ve done here lately at The Athletic – ranking players by numbers, by alphabet and even by Zodiac signs (Who is the greatest Sagittarian of all time?) – this might be the most intriguing exercise yet:

Choosing the 25 most dominant teams of the past 50 years....

6. Detroit Red Wings, 2001-02
Record: 51-17-10-4, 116 points (82 games). Won Stanley Cup.

Count the Hall of Famers on this team: Steve Yzerman, Dominik Hasek, Chris Chelios, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Luc Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan, plus owner Mike Illitch, coach Scotty Bowman and Mark Howe, who was on the pro scouting staff. Chances are, Pavel Datsyuk will join their ranks as soon as he’s eligible for HHOF selection. Bowman’s greatest challenge may have been convincing so many stars of the NHL galaxy to cheerfully accept lesser roles because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough ice time to go around. The Wings had a brief scare in losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the finals opener, but they recovered nicely from that setback and won the next four.

rmore (paid) team which include the 97-98 Detroit team at #17 and the 95-96 team ar #22...

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Steeb's avatar

To me the bigger “brief scare” was in the first round, going down 0-2 at home to the Canucks… Shades of the great teams who bowed out early to the likes of SJ and TOR were starting to rise. But then Lidstrom scored from 140 feet, and all was right again with the world.

Posted by Steeb on 05/21/20 at 12:28 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Posted by Steeb on 05/21/20 at 12:28 PM ET

Yeah, I am not sure why *that* is the brief scare compared to losing to vancouver as you mentioned or losing game 5 to colorado and then the ultra tense game 6.

Posted by ilovehomers on 05/21/20 at 12:45 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Here’s a question now having a chance to relive some of these playoff games again being locked in my house.  Were the 2001 Red Wings actually a better than the 1997 Red Wings? Not on paper, in their respective runs.  On paper sure, accomplishments for careers and such, but if the two faced each other, I think it’s a close series.

First of all ‘97 was 4 years earlier, though you could are THE best player, Lidstrom improved with age. 

Center edge ‘97 Yzerman was dominant still and not on one leg that allowed us to run him and Sergie Federov both at center and on split lines, Sergie was always a horse, but in 97 he was dominant.  Consider Igor in ‘97 vs. Igor in ‘02.  Watching Pavel in post season play, it was his first year, and he wasn’t pavel of the 2008 cup, he was tentative.

Wing edge to ‘01 Hull and Luc, over Kozie and Pointe on paper, but Hull and Luc were kind of old, and Kozlov could handle and carry those two didn’t and LaPointe was a heavy body. Shanny was Shanny, maybe argue that he’s a big slower in ‘01.
Key though is Homer, there was no homer in ‘97 for sure.

Overall I think the 97 defense was better IMO, but I love Vladdy. 
Nick Murphy Konstinov and Fetisov vs. Nicl Olausson Chelios and Fisher as a top 4
Chelios is great, but he’s pair with Fisher as a rookie vs. a Papa Bear and Vladdie pairing.

It comes down to the goalie and you got to give the edge to ‘01 Hasek over ‘97 Vernon, though Vernon was the conn smithe so that year, that run, closer than you might think.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerGod's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 05/21/20 at 02:01 PM ET


Fell behind in two of their four playoff series and took seven games to win another one.

How dominant were the 2002 Wings? Not very…

Posted by BaromirBragr on 05/21/20 at 03:04 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Have you ever wondered how the ‘08 team would stack up against any of these teams?

Sure I get it…the star power isn’t there…but as a team?

Some say they were only a one scoring line team with two decent bottom lines and 2 decent D pairings…but that one scoring line could score at will against every team they came against. Those 2 D pairings were fairly good (Lidstrom and Rafalski, Stuart and Kronner). And their bottom two lines were heavy with experience and/or a lot of speed. That second line was…hit or miss…unless Franzen was fire like he was the first three rounds….and yeah that third defense pairing was forgettable.

I don’t know…just a question to ponder.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 05/21/20 at 04:41 PM ET


The 2008 team was EXCELLENT.  Puck possession for days and got good goaltending when it needed it. 

The 2002 team however did beat 2002 Colorado, which is one of the very best teams to not win the Cup, loaded with its own HOFers and more or less the same team as the excellent 2001 champs (minus Ray Bourque, but with a healthy Forsberg in the postseason).  That is a significant feather.  The 2008 team only beat busters before the fledgling Penguins.

Posted by captaineclectic on 05/21/20 at 06:26 PM ET


I, without stats, research, or backup, take 97 over 02 by virtue of athleticism, aura, prime-age talent, and strength of opposition. Fortunately, as a fan, I was able to enjoy both at the time without qualification / comparison.

Posted by Unhealthy Scratch on 05/21/20 at 10:40 PM ET

d ca's avatar

I am sorry but the 1995-96 team was the most dominant team the Wings had. I know it was a loss to the Avs in the Conference Finals—which might not have happened had the Wings taken it easy on Montreal in Dec (11-1 victory) when Roy was left in net too long and played his last game for that organization and wound up in Denver—-but that’s why that rivalry was so good. HOF goaltending can still beat dominant teams in a 7 game series.

The Wings went 62-13-7 for 131 pts (before they watered it down with OTL’s)—missing Montreal’s record by 1 pt in a greatly expanded field of teams. 5 of those loses occurred between the start of the season and Nov 1st. That means they went 57-8-5 over the rest of the season.

They broke Montreal’s record for most regular-season wins. Lead the league in shutouts (9), fewest goals against (181), fewest even-strengthened goals (128), fewest PPG’s allowed (44) and were best on the PK percentage-wise (88.27%).

As far as roster they had the HOF’ers: Stevie Y, Fedorov, Larionov, Coffey, Ciccarelli, Lidstrom, and Fetisov.

Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon won the Jennings Trophy that year.

Vladimir Konstantinov lead the league in +/-.

While I agree the ‘02 was the best collection of talent the team has ever had (and had a cap number of 65M which was higher than the salary cap until ‘14-‘15 ( but when adjust for inflation the ‘01-‘02 season’s payroll would not fit a salary cap era limit) :yet, the Wings most dominant team was the ‘95-96 team.

Posted by d ca on 05/22/20 at 12:57 AM ET


A team that doesn’t even win the Cup has ZERO claim to anything resembling dominance.

Posted by BaromirBragr on 05/22/20 at 12:24 PM ET

d ca's avatar

A team that doesn’t even win the Cup has ZERO claim to anything resembling dominance.
Posted by BaromirBragr on 05/22/20 at 12:24 PM ET

By that logic the neutral zone trap team New Jersey Devils from 94-95 that finished with a 22-18-8 record has more of a claim to be considered a dominant team than the ‘85-86 Edmonton Oilers that won the first presidents trophy and were 3x defending Cup champs, but lost to rookie goaltender Mike Vernon in game 7 of the 2nd round of the playoffs?

Is there anyone on the planet that would argue the ‘86-86 Edmonton Oilers were not a dominant team? Yet, as proven above they didn’t win the Cup even when the “won” the regular season….does that really make that team less dominant than say last years St Louis Blues that finished 3rd in their division—yet went on a streak after rookie goalie Jordan Binnington joined the team.

That’s where I say nope….winning the Cup is a consideration—but not the ultimate consideration. Any argument to counter that means the ‘85-‘86 Edmonton Oilers were less of a dominant team than St. Louis last year or the trap-style NJ Devils. And that’s just an argument that I would immediately dismiss as invalid.

Injuries and a hot goalie can get a dominant team beat…that doesn’t prevent them from being a dominant team.

Posted by d ca on 05/22/20 at 02:35 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Posted by d ca on 05/22/20 at 02:35 PM ET

Quoted for objective truth

Posted by ilovehomers on 05/22/20 at 06:16 PM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com