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In Or Out Of The NHL Playoffs

from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News,

Here are three 2014-15 candidates to slide from in the big dance to out – and three to slide from out to in.

MADE PLAYOFFS IN 2013-14, COULD MISS IN 2014-15

 1. Detroit Red Wings  (My projection: 9th in East)

All good things come to an end, and maybe the epic playoff streak stops at 23 years. Detroit was shockingly inactive during the flurry of early off-season activity, whiffing on free agents like Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle. This team has added next to nothing, its goaltending was suspect last season and, even though Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are slated to return healthy, each is having an increasingly difficult time doing so.

Detroit’s blueline lacks elite puck-moving ability and, while Anthony Mantha is a promising prospect up front, the franchise’s history of patience suggests he’ll take another year to reach the NHL. Detroit still has an encouraging youth movement, as Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have shown. But the teams it edged for a playoff spot (see the second section) have improved, while it has not.

2. New York Rangers (My projection: 7th in East)
It’s not a question of if the Rangers regress after a trip to the Stanley Cup final. The question is how much, and the slide could be significant if this team can’t generate offense.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

gowings's avatar

I know we have heard that before…..but I also think it comes to an end this year….I followed the Wings from being the “dead Wings” to Stanley Cup contenders for several years…..to unfortunately see them go down again…..well, as my husband would say…it could be worse…I could be a leaf fan…..

Posted by gowings from MTL on 07/13/14 at 09:08 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Detroit’s blueline lacks elite puck-moving ability

They also lack the ability to clear their own crease or clear rebounds.  Or to hold the puck in the offensive zone..

Posted by Primis on 07/13/14 at 09:41 AM ET

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If the Wings fail to make the playoffs…and I believe they will…it will simply be a case of Babcock and Holland not making necessary adjustments during the season. Leaving a pairing like Quincey and Smith together for much of last year is one example. Both players had much better performances she separated from each other.

Keeping Lashoff and Kindl as their third pair would not be smart this upcoming season either and the onus is on Holland to move one or both, even if it means be waived for Lashoff. Kindl is simply never going to make it our of Babcock’s doghouse on a permanent basis and needs a fresh start. I hear the critics talk about Kindl’s fragile psyche and how he needs to suck it up but the problem is that Babcock, despite his statements to the contrary, DOES play favourites.

His failure to recognize that aspect of his coaching is one of the things about Babcock that frustrates me. That, and his inability to stop repeating failed experiments such as the forward on the point during a PP.

The one caveat is with respect to health, as far as making the playoffs goes. A year with injuries similar to last season would derail their playoff hopes. If it happens again, I would seriously question the training regimen of the players and their athletic therapists…... and their whole approach to office training.

Posted by NewfieWing on 07/13/14 at 10:16 AM ET

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Sorry about the typos.

Paul we need some way to correct errors.

Posted by NewfieWing on 07/13/14 at 10:18 AM ET

calquake's avatar

Wings make the playoffs… book it!

Posted by calquake on 07/13/14 at 10:19 AM ET

SYF's avatar

As long as the IR list isn’t even 1/10 the dogpile it was in the ‘13-‘14 season, Wings are making the playoffs.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 07/13/14 at 10:58 AM ET

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I also think the Red Wings will make the playoffs.  In point of fact I think they will finish third in the division.

1)  I don’t think Howard will have another subpar season;

2)  Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Helm, Franzen, and Ericsson combined for just 234 games last season.  I think they will combine for at least 310 games played this year, a modest number (like 62 games a piece!) that’s still almost as valuable as adding a full season from a strong NHL player. 

3)  I think Brendan Smith, Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Tatar, and Tomas Jurco will find another gear (Smith was getting noticeably better late in the season);

4)  While I think Nyquist and Sheahan possibly overachieved last year, a full season of each of them is still going to be a net plus even assuming some level of regression;

5)  I think Steven Weiss will be at least a 30 point player, and even though that’s only half of what we’re paying him for it’s still far more than he contributed last year;

6)  I still fully expect a move to improve the blueline, even if we wait until the deadline to see it.

Posted by captaineclectic on 07/13/14 at 11:04 AM ET

von Awesome's avatar

I’m pretty confident we will make the playoffs. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they may even surprise us and let the kids loose again this year.

Posted by von Awesome on 07/13/14 at 11:07 AM ET

SK77's avatar

Considering the Wings just barely made the playoffs last year with a devastated roster and less-experienced youngins, I’m not sure how they’d miss this year starting with a clean bill of health and more experience youngblood.

Defense is going to continue to be a weak point, but they did it last year with the same defense and no legitimate AHL call ups. Now they’ve got Marchenko, Ouellet, and maybe Sproul, all ready to replace the likes of Kindl & Lashoff this season.

Nyquist, Tatar, and Jurco are only going to be more consistent as they build upon previous successes. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are feeling good. Weiss will hopefully be ready to go out and solidify the second line. Helm came back strong last season. There are plenty of other players to plug in and move around as needed.

And in goal, if Howard has another offseason and Monster falters, you’ve got Mrazek more than ready to step up.

Holland seems to have lost the faith of a lot of fans, but he’s one trade away from silencing critics. Babcock is still a driving, beast of a coach.

So, short of a rash of injuries on par with last season, I fully expect the Wings to come in around the 5th spot.

Posted by SK77 on 07/13/14 at 11:21 AM ET

von Awesome's avatar

So, short of a rash of injuries on par with last season, I fully expect the Wings to come in around the 5th spot.

Posted by SK77 on 07/13/14 at 12:21 PM ET

I think that’s a fair place to slot them, honestly.

Posted by von Awesome on 07/13/14 at 12:24 PM ET

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when in the last couple years have they not been injury plagued? why will this year be different? that’s a serious question. other teams in the division at least tried to improve. while the ‘kids’ :shudders: will be exciting to watch they may not win as many games as you’d think they are still pretty raw. i expect them to go through stretches of playing great with some significant rough patches. if the d has no ability to get them pucks in space none of this will matter anyway. i’m all for letting the team get waaaay younger even if that means some painful games for the next season or 2.

Posted by brians neck on 07/13/14 at 01:54 PM ET

calquake's avatar

other teams in the division at least tried to improve.

I don’t mind criticism but only when it’s based in fact.  To say the Wings didn’t even try to improve is misleading at best and an outright lie at worst.

 

Posted by calquake on 07/13/14 at 02:20 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Injuriesnare what saves our season.  I’d clearly takes a spot in the lineup every night and Weiss doesn’t find his game.. They won’t be waived and they’ll go down with the ship.  Laahoff and kindl keep blowing coverage and not doing their job.. But got mult year contracts so won’t be waived.  If we gt a couple young d in and jurco starts with some looks at pull and mantha and I think were a dangerous team provided our leadership stays healthy

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/13/14 at 02:29 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Jesus Christ writing on this phone is brutal.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 07/13/14 at 02:30 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Wings make the playoffs… book it!

Also mentioned in another post is the Red Wings making a trade for a defense-man before the trade deadline. Also counting on a healthier team next season. Adding it up they could finish third in their division.

Posted by bigfrog on 07/13/14 at 02:55 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Wings make the playoffs… book it!

Agreed, even with the frustrating sideways moves. Thank Gord we’re in the East. I’d have a lot less confidence if we were still in the West.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 07/13/14 at 03:13 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Agreed, even with the frustrating sideways moves. Thank Gord we’re in the East. I’d have a lot less confidence if we were still in the West.

We could be battling Cal - Gary for a playoff spot… big surprise

Posted by calquake on 07/13/14 at 04:25 PM ET

Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit's avatar

IN.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from Pa.-made in Detroit on 07/13/14 at 05:22 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Nate & others nailed it. If the Wings were still in the West it’d be a completely different story. Bonus points to The Franchise for having an exit strategy. Now ... about that roster ...

Posted by SK77 on 07/13/14 at 05:41 PM ET

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If Detroit’s league-average healthy they’re easily the 4-5 seed in the East even if all they get out of Howard is what he gave them last year, inconsistently mediocre at best goaltending for 5.3 per.

If they can get something approaching a solid season out of their goalies and instead of having the 21st best goalie save percentage get into the top 10-12 they’re a lock for the top 3… again, assuming just league-average health.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/13/14 at 10:35 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

A roster with more youth should lead to healthier players, save the few fluke injuries and Darren Helm, of course. 

Some key defining points, in my opinion:
1) Can Datsyuk, Zetterberg, (and hopefully Alfredsson) play 68+ games this year?
2) Can Kronwall, Ericcson, and Dekeyser all play 70+ games this year?
3) Can Howard get back in his grove since he won’t be under Olympic qualifying pressure? 
4) Can Tatar and Nyquist play at 80% of the level they played at last year?

Posted by TreKronor on 07/14/14 at 09:58 AM ET

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other teams in the division at least tried to improve.

I don’t mind criticism but only when it’s based in fact.  To say the Wings didn’t even try to improve is misleading at best and an outright lie at worst.

Semantics then.  Other teams in the division actually did something to improve.

Thank Gord we’re in the East. I’d have a lot less confidence if we were still in the West.

This kills me.

Detroit moved to the East and came closest to missing the playoffs as they have in recent memory, and have done nothing to improve, yet people still think of being in the East as a good thing?

Posted by Garth on 07/14/14 at 10:25 AM ET

SK77's avatar

Detroit moved to the East and came closest to missing the playoffs as they have in recent memory, and have done nothing to improve, yet people still think of being in the East as a good thing?

Posted by Garth on 07/14/14 at 11:25 AM ET

Versus still being in the West? Yes, assuming you want them to make the playoffs and not get absolutely murdered by the teams in the West which the Wings definitely don’t stack up against.

Posted by SK77 on 07/14/14 at 11:11 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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