Yes they are second in the central division standings. Yes they 3rd in the Western Conference points race.
But here is the key question. Can the Wings win the Stanley Cup?
After a glance at the standings, the Detroit Red Wings appear as if they are one of the top teams in the Western Conference. A deeper look at the numbers tells a different story. Just three points separates the third spot from the eighth. Their longest win streak of the season is 2. Their longest losing skid 5. The Detroit Red wings are just one more losing streak away from being out of the play-offs.
The advantage is that their Western Conference opponents save Chicago and Anaheim aren’t doing much better creating a log jam of teams between the 4th and 8th play-off seeds. That is why the Wings should be sellers at the NHL Trade deadline. The injury prone and old Detroit Red Wings don’t have what it takes to win Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2013. However, the wings veterans could bring a premium at the trade deadline for one of those middle seeded teams trying to contend this year. Trading Henrick Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi or Pavel Datsyuk could allow the Detroit Red Wings to reload during a strike shortened season and most of the sports world isn’t paying attention to anyway. It can also free up more ice time for their younger developing players.
Great organizations can evaluate their teams and make decisions that will set them up for years to come. The Red Wings are an elite organization. This is one of those rare opportunities for an elite organization to get above market value for aging veterans while they can still command high end prospects.
What about the play-off streak? Before you wax poetic about that ask former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly if he would rather have four AFC championships or one Superbowl. Did anyone remember that the Buffalo Bills dominated the AFC four straight seasons. No, what people remember is that they lost the Superbowl four years in a row. A feat the beleaguered franchise has still not recovered from.
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most elite franchises in all of sport. They must hold themsleves to a higher standard. If they don’t have a realistic shot at winning the cup they need to build a team that does. Make no mistake this team may make the play-offs. They may struggle through a first round match-up with Phoenix or St. Louis but they have no shot to beat the Chicago Blackhawks. The smartest thing for Ken Holland to do is reload for next season. If done correctly it could set up the Detroit Red Wings for a new decade of dominance.