Wings No Longer Soar

Dobber Sports

2008-03-03

 

It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Red Wings were high above the competition. They were the 747 with the rest of the league looking like ants. Don’t look now but… Detroit has company.

On February 6th, Detroit carried a huge lead ahead of the rest of the Western Conference with 86 points. At that time, the now runner-up Stars trailed them with 69 points. In less than a month, Dallas has made up 14 points by going 9-3-0 during that time. Meanwhile, Detroit went 2-8-2 adding only six points. Now the two are only separated by three points. Despite the fact Detroit has played two fewer games, this is an amazing fall from grace for the perennial powerhouse. Will they collapse? At the beginning of February, their strangle hold seemed unbreakable and no one would have predicted such vulnerability. Now, the last two weeks have added even greater intrigue.

First, we have the return of the king. The quack attack is back at full force. Going into Monday, Anaheim had gone 9-1-0 since Detroit began their collapse. It all started with the return of Niedermayer and when that proved not enough, Selanne reemerged to put them over the top with 12 points in 11 games. The elder wonder even had a five-point game to boot. He’s done exactly what he needed to in order to dig them out of their big hole. He both inspired and produced for a flailing team.

Next, the Colorado Avalanche add Foppa then Foote. We have yet to see how much these two potentially significant moves will help the Avs, but the returns of both Sakic and Stastny this month are definitely huge for this team. IF they can somehow get healthy, they can challenge the elite. I say this even with the loss of Svatos for the season. A healthy Sakic, Stastny, Smyth(eekk) and especially Foppa would definitely outweigh that loss on offense. Mentioning the Foote acquisition on the back end, this takes us into the trade deadline and back to the Pacific.

San Jose got the help they desired on defense. Brian Campbell will come in and do what Matt Carle couldn’t… yet. He will produce as a great puck mover and play solid in his own. San Jose gets that much better where they needed it and they have plenty of forwards to fill the gap left by Bernier in the short term.

Finally, Dallas made the huge splash by acquiring Mr. Brad “I know how to make an entrance” Richards. With this move, Dallas has put the final nail in the coffin when it comes to thinking this is the team where offense comes to die. With the Morrow and Ribeiro connection and Richards making role players into semi-stars, this team looks primed to take over the top spot in the Western Conference. Will Detroit let them?

Let’s recap. The Pacific is coming after Detroit. The Wings are no longer running this joint. Colorado is the huge darkhorse to come into prominence, but without health they will struggle to stay in 8th. During all these moves to catch up, Detroit has struggled with injuries and recently lost their best player in Lidstrom for a significant amount of time. Will the return of ancient Hasek make up for this. No… he is no better than Osgood anyway. Will Cleary make up for this. Umm no. The return of other D may help, but at their age and/or fragility (Kronwall), I’m not counting on them all.

Detroit chose to try to do one of the most difficult