Last season, the Detroit Red Wings finished with a record of 43-25-14, which translates to 100 points. More importantly, their overall record allowed the team to keep their playoff streak alive, as the Red Wings made their 24th consecutive postseason appearance. Mike Babcock has stood behind the bench in Detroit for a good portion of the streak – 10 seasons. That changes this season, as Babcock moved on to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason, allowing Jeff Blashill to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL. In this week’s issue of The Grind Line, we are going to discuss how some of the changes in Detroit could alter their record.
Brandon Peleshok: 2nd in the Atlantic, 108 Points
The biggest change for the Red Wings this year is the one behind the bench, as Blashill is taking over for Babcock after 10 season as the team’s head coach. While both coaches use similar systems and tactics on the ice, the most notable difference is how they interact with their players. Babcock is a “taskmaster” according to his players, while Blashill is a more personable and approachable coach. Many of the players on the team have described the move as a breath of fresh air. In addition to the change behind the bench, the Red Wings added two veteran players – center Brad Richards and defenseman Mike Green. Richards gives the team depth down the middle and another weapon on their second power play unit, while Green is the elusive right-handed, offensive defenseman Detroit has been searching for since Brian Rafalski retired in 2011. With a group of rejuvenated veteran and young players looking to prove themselves, the Red Wings will improve on their 2014-15 record and finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division.
Spencer Meisner: 3rd in the Atlantic, 106 Points
While the 2015-2016 season looks promising for the Red Wings, other teams in the Atlantic division look promising as well. Detroit’s defence will be subject to scrutiny again this year, even with the addition of Green. The Red Wings goaltending and group of forwards will be their strongest weapons this season, especially with the likes of Athanasiou, Mantha and Larkin waiting in the wings (no pun intended). Montreal and Tampa Bay essentially walk into the season with the same rosters as last season. Meanwhile, the Red Wings have gotten older and are gambling on Richards and Green making an impact. This team will have a different look than last season, but as far as the regular season standings go, it should have a similar outcome.
Tony Wolak: 2nd in the Atlantic, 105 points.
In Blashill’s first year at the helm of the Detroit Red Wings, he will guide his team to a 105-point season, good for 2nd in the Atlantic Division. While Tampa Bay and Montreal boast strong teams, each has the potential to regress this season, much like the Red Wings according to who you ask. Henrik Zetterberg looks healthy this year and will lead a deep forward unit. Detroit’s goaltending has looked strong this preseason and if the mental toll of a goaltending battle can be avoided (see 2007-08 season), the Red Wings could overtake either the Lightning or Canadiens this season.
I am a writer from Windsor, Ontario who has covered the Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. I have had the pleasure of doing so since February of 2015. Previously, I have written about Red Wings prospects for Hockey’s Future. I am always up for chatting about the Red Wings and hockey in general, so leave me your comment and/or tweets. Follow me on Twitter at @BrandonPeleshok.