22 straight years in the playoffs for the Red Wings. If those 22 years have taught the fans anything, it is that ANYTHING can happen in the NHL playoffs, just get in and let the chips fall where they may.
In this year’s shortened season, a team like the Red Wings, that depended so heavily on their #1 goalie be in trouble as he could be worn down. Or the exact opposite could happen, a goalie like Jimmy Howard, that is used to playing 60-65 regular season games plus playoffs, could be rounding into form for a deep playoff run. And with the way Howard played the past two weeks (3 Shutouts in 7 games, 1.00 GAA, .953 SV%) it looks like he may be in top form for the playoffs.
The NHL playoffs always are intriguing for the way a hot goalie like Jonathon Quick, Jaroslav Halak, Cam Ward or Jean-Sebastina Giguere have carried their teams onto the finals, despite other team flaws like inability to score or previous week defense.
Having an established goalie, like Howard is step one in making a playoff run, step two, for this Red Wings team is puck moving defensemen. The Red Wings struggled this year finding where to put the minutes of retired Nick Lidstrom, but ever since the signing of Danny DeKeyser, that problem has seem to disappear and the team has been playing a much better game defensively and has been moving the puck up to the very skilled, veteran forwards much better.
Danny DeKeyser is not the best defenseman on the Red Wings yet, but his presence has relieved some pressure off of Nick Kronwall and allowed Mike Babcock to not have to rely so heavily on Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl. Therefore, allowing them to play less impact minutes and saving legs of the more dependable defenseman, himself included, for the more important minutes.
The Red Wings have never had to struggle so mightily to make the playoffs, so maybe this team just isn’t that good and will be eliminated quickly and move on to next year. But, with the veterans they have up front in Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsuyk, Johan Franzen and Valteri Filpula and the steady play they have had on the back end recently, fans should be optimistic that this team can win a few games and even a few series this year.
And in the NHL playoffs, its all about just making them, then starting from scratch and trying to string together a couple of weeks of strong hockey.