Experts, Analysts Foolishly Picking Detroit Red Wings to Miss Playoffs


As another NHL season falls upon us, so does another round of predictions in a number of areas: trophy winners, first coaches to be fired, division/conference/cup winners, and so on. Obviously, the first hot takes that any hockey fan in his/her right mind is – you guessed it – who’s making the playoffs, and who is not. It’s an interesting time of year, as analysts and experts unanimously pencil in the same team to win a division, or all snag a different dark horse to win it all. However, we can see that the hot-takery is oh so hot this October as many ‘expert’ opinions share one odd detail:

Everyone is picking the Detroit Red Wings as an odd man out for this year’s postseason. And it makes no sense.

Only one out of four of Sports Illustrated‘s staffers had Detroit in the final eight in the Eastern Conference.

TSN slated Detroit to miss, and gave both wild card positions to the Metropolitan Division (for those of you who didn’t know, Detroit is now in the Atlantic Division).

Of the few who put their hopes in Detroit making it out of the regular season alive, nobody has them advancing.

♫ So tell me whyyyyyyyy, you don’t like the Red Wings — (and whyyy) you’re pi-icking the Bru-ins — to make it to the playoffs….♫  (Lit, anyone? I know you sing along to it at Joe Louis)

Nobody should be surprised to see the Red Wings to be put down and out already. It happens every year. The same narratives are repeated every season — ‘Detroit’s too old’, ‘Datsyuk and Zetterberg can’t last a whole season’ — with some new ones as well (which are as equally ridiculous as the old ones) — ‘They’ll be lost without Babcock’, ‘Detroit doesn’t have it figured out in goal’.

What is surprising is seeing who is being picked to knock Detroit out of the race. Let’s preface this discussion with the assumption that Montreal and Tampa Bay are going to occupy two playoff slots in the Atlantic (Tampa because, duh, and Montreal because Carey Price).

Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings /

Detroit Red Wings

Let’s talk about the Boston Bruins: you must be DERANGED if you are picking this team to make the playoffs. Dear Lord. First of all, Claude Julien couldn’t coach this team through a hopscotch competition. Boston’s whole roster would be dead or hospitalized. Zdeno Chara is out to start the season, and it’ll be a blessing if his knees don’t disintegrate into mounds of gelatin powder by the season’s end. If they do (and they should), the Broons will be looking at ADAM MCQUIAD to be their number-two defenseman without a single recognizable name below him and Torey Krug in the depth chart. People seem to forget that this team no longer has Johnny Boychuk OR Dougie Hamilton, and the team hangs its hope on booger-eaters like Brad Marchand. The Bruins still have a few star talents that they can rely on, like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and David Pastrnak, but if generational talent and #GritGod Zac Rinaldo can’t put up a Hart-worthy season, this team isn’t going anywhere.

Next, we see the Columbus Blue Jackets sneaking up the predicted standings. This hot take is more likely, but hot nonetheless. I like Lumbus’ first line; Saad, Johansen, and Foligno will be absolutely lethal together. Sergei Bobrovsky is one of the league’s greatest goaltending talents. If this team can avoid the injury trends that plagued them last year, Columbus could give the fringe teams in the east a run for their money, but I don’t see them anywhere a divisional spot. Their bottom-six leaves a lot to be desired, and their defense is mediocre (If Jack Johnson is your number-one blue-liner, you’re gonna have a bad time). Any injuries for Lumbus and they’re kaputz.

Now, the Florida Panthers… No, I’m not joking. It’s not a typo. I like their top-six, even though they’ve got the corpse of Jaromir Jagr’s mullet holding it together. They could have a dark-horse third line. I like Ekblad, but the remaining defense is simply meh. Luongo should hold the fort down. All in all, you could say Florida is a good team, but saying they are a threat is a bit of a stretch. Even though Detroit can’t beat the Cats in any way, shape, or form for God-only-knows what reasons, to have them making the playoffs is very wishful thinking, methinks.

Toronto is gonna Toronto. Mike Babcock is going to get what’s coming to him without a gifted roster and competent management. Buffalo isn’t going to be saved by Jack Eichel; we’ll see improvement, but they just aren’t ready to compete. And lightning will have struck me twice if Andrew Hammond is going to perform ANYWHERE near as well as he did down the stretch for the Senators last year. That stroke of luck should hopefully be an anomaly.

I’ve debunked what people may see in these teams. What about the Red Wings?

More from Octopus Thrower

Contrary to popular belief, swapping out Mike Babcock for Jeff Blashill may be the best thing to happen for Detroit in a long time. Already, we’re seeing a culture for the Wings that will undoubtedly bring about much success. Holland finally cut the umbilical cord on Dan Cleary in favor of future stud Dylan Larkin (something we would never see with Babcock). Shooter Teemu Pulkkinen will be given ice time in the top-nine, as well as time in the shooting lanes on the power play (something Babcock refused to do, for whatever reason). Finally, in Detroit, the tie goes to the better player, not the veteran. The players are probably rejoicing in angelic harmony as they once again have a coach that will communicate effectively and treat them with respect. How is the goaltending battle between Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek anything but splendid for Detroit in-goal? An all-star and a young, proven stud make up one of the league’s best tandems, and many are still doubting their ability. Yes, Pavel Datsyuk, Danny DeKeyser, and Darren Helm are out to start the season, but they’ll all be back within the next few weeks, and in the meantime, the Wings have many prospects and sheltered youngsters who can fill the gaps without any hesitation (see Dylan Larkin, Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, etc.). Datsyuk, Tatar, and Nyquist are all primed for around 30 goals each (yes, if Pavel stays healthy, he can score 30 goals). Mike Green and Teemu Pulkkinen will take last year’s power play ability to a new level. This team is pretty solid any way you look at it. So, what’s with all the doubt? I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m just pointing out the obvious.

So, where do you think Detroit ends up this postseason? Am I a genius? Will Detroit make it? Or do I know nothing, and should I be writing for the Bleacher Report? Let us know in the comments, and share my pro-Wings propaganda on Twitter and Facebook.