Playoff Eye for Y's Guys

Unhealthy the bulk of the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings appear on the verge of a healthy beginning to the post season, with the exception of Curtis Joseph. How will they fair, possible goalie “controversy”, and an in depth look at what the keys are to win another cup for Motown. The current list of injuries for the Red Wings looks to be clearing out around the start of the post season, with key players like Kris Draper, Darien Hatcher, and Robert Lang returning in time for the cup run. Let’s jump right into the first of three keys to the Wings success in the post-season: health. This is a must for every team obviously, but it’s more of a worry on an older team like the Red Wings. Hatcher has been injured all year, and might not stay healthy throughout the playoffs. The wings must stay healthy throughout the playoffs to have a shot.

Key number two: goaltending. Curtis Joseph has played well when healthy, but an ankle injury is prime for reaggrivation at any given time. In my opinion, the Red Wings can win a cup with Manny Legace, but there are doubts… for instance he has little playoff experience, and his stamina for playing many games without rest is still uncertain, being a backup all of his career. If Cujo is injured, and Manny starts to slip due to fatigue, what do the Wings do then? Play Marc Lamothe? Moth-man is very talented, but he can’t handle the playoff pressure.

Key number three: No Edmonton in the first round. This may sound stupid, but as a Red Wing fan myself, I am dead terrified of playing the Oilers in the first round. They are fast, and are young and hungry. If the Wings were to survive this first round opponent, it would be a 7-game series, unless the Wings were firing on all cylinders right off the bat and took the first couple games to knock off Edmonton’s confidence and momentum.

Say the Wings do draw the Oilers in round one… Edmonton takes the first couple games of the series, Wings fight back and end up winning in 7 games. They draw the second round opponent of the Calgary Flames, fresh off knocking off the Avalanche. Flames take it to the tired Wings, and kill their hopes of a cup in 6 games. And I do believe that the Flames are the “cinderella” story of the playoffs this year, and I take pity on whoever draws them first round. Most likely Colorado or San Jose, and if it’s San Jose, what a series that would be indeed.

Okay losing my focus here… let me throw some final thoughts in here. If the Wings win the cup:

– Wings draw St. Louis in round one.

– Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will have standout playoff performances.

– Defensive scoring will be the stat to watch on the Red Wings side.

– Manny Legace proves to the hockey world that he is not the best backup goaltender in the league, but one of the best starters.

Yzerman wins the Conn Smythe, not for scoring points but for doing what he does every damn game… sacrificing his body for the team, giving 200%, playing through pain, being the best damn leader of the game.

If the Wings falter…

– Serious injuries to their defensive core (Hatcher, Schneider, Chelios)

– Legace plunders, Joseph isn’t 100%.

– Wings falter in first couple games of the playoffs, fans lost faith in the team, a younger faster team (Edminton, Nashville) prevails.

– Yzerman still plays his heart out every damn game.

Well that’s my take on this playoff year in Hockeytown. I know I show all gloom and doom if the Wings draw Edminton or Nashville, but if the Wings take either games one or two against either team, then I believe they will be okay. To conclude: A healthy, well tuned, hungry and ready Red Wings team will make it to the Stanley Cup finals.. their opponent?

Let’s pray it’s Toronto, and Cujo is healthy (even unhealthy). That turns me on just thinking about it.