No limit on how high Red Wings can soar in post-season
Sports WriterFor the 19th straight season the Detroit Red Wings will compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But for the first time in quite a while the team is not one of the top-seeded teams in its conference, and will be starting the playoffs away from Joe Louis Arena. However, it’s not all bad news. The Wings have recorded the best record in hockey since the players returned from the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Fans worry about the team’s struggles offensively early on in the season, and their lack of overall consistency. Yet since Johan Franzen’s return from a torn ACL, the Wings have returned to the form that has led them to consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearances. And the play of Pavel Datsyuk has clearly improved since Franzen’s return and will be one of the key factors if the Wings are to make a deep run in the playoffs. The biggest key, however, will be how Henrik Zetterberg handles another two months of playing against the opposing teams’ top line. Head coach Mike Babcock has relied on Zetterberg for the past two playoffs to keep the other teams’ top player in check—and still contribute in the offensive zone. If he can do that, the Wings should once again skate well into May or June. One major question mark will be how rookie goalie Jimmy Howard handles the pressure of his first postseason. Howard has asserted himself as the number one net-minder, and will be the starting goalie heading into the first round. Should he stumble, back-up Chris Osgood may be needed to steady the ship one more time. He’s the guy who has backstopped the Wings to back-to-back Finals—and he owns three championship rings. Barring another string of injuries, the Wings have everything they need to compete with the best teams in hockey. With all their experience and skill there is no reason why the Wings should not make another deep run—and maybe even win it all.