Detroit had a hot start to their season, but things haven’t quite gone according to plan since then. The Red Wings are in town tonight to face off against your Edmonton Oilers, and I’ve got a few questions about the Detroit contingent here tonight.
Here to answer my questions about these Red Wings is Kyle, one of the managing editors from SB Nation’s Wings sister page Winging It In Motown,
Let’s hit it.
Copper and Blue: Detroit had a rocking start to the season. Winners of three of their first four, they’ve suffered two straight defeats with a 5-2 loss to Toronto and a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Is the season starting out like you expected? Is it better? Worse? Why?
KYLE/WIIM: I think the Red Wings are better than a lot of fans expected, and really, it boils down to two things; the top line performance and solid goaltending from Jimmy Howard. Are they a good team? No, definitely not. They’re still in the thick of a rebuild, but they have budding stars that are pushing the team at times.
Copper and Blue: The top line of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi is humming along. This trio compiles the top three scorers in this young season for Detroit. After the top line, there’s a fairly steep drop. What’s to like elsewhere among the forwards?
KYLE/WIIM: You said it there.. It’s a steep drop from the top line. Andreas Athanasiou has a ton of electric skill, but he’s got two bricks to pull along in Luke Glendening and Frans Nielsen. Nielsen isn’t bad, but he’s not a top-six player. Glendening isn’t even a top-nine guy. I’m not sure what coaching is trying to get at with this. Outside of that, it just seems to be one useful player on a line with two other seemingly useless players. Problem is-- there’s no chemistry outside of the first line.
Copper and Blue: Goaltender Jimmy Howard has been a member of the Red Wings for what seems like an eternity. I actually just looked, his first games were in 2005-06. He’s on a one year deal, while journeyman Jonathan Bernier occupies the other half of the tandem until 2021. They’ve split time so far this year. Do you prefer one to the other? Is there a clear cut number one among this tandem?
KYLE/WIIM: I have, and will always be a fan of Jimmy Howard. He’s been more consistent than the fanbase wants to admit. Jonathan Bernier is a fringe backup at the NHL level, and the fact that Ken Holland handed him a three-year contract will bug me until it’s over with. Bernier has his moments, but they are few and far between. Give me James in the net.
Copper and Blue: Tell us about a rookie or a potential young star that’s due for a breakout this year.
KYLE/WIIM: Keep an eye on Filip Hronek. He’s quickly emerging as one of Detroit’s best rearguards. Great size, great mobility, a howitzer of a shot, and he’s a sparkplug. As the old hockey people like to say, he enjoys “mucking” it up.
Copper and Blue: Finally, is there any chance these Red Wings find themselves in a playoff position come April? Why or why not?
KYLE/WIIM: Of course there’s a chance, just like there’s a chance a Unicorn will fly out of my ass. But really, this is not a contending team, and they play in an extremely competitive division and conference. If they somehow squeak in, it’ll be a wild card spot, and they’ll likely get pulverized by the team they end up drawing. I don’t think they manage to comfortably get into the playoffs in at least another two or three years, if all things go to plan.
Thanks to Kyle for his time.
Follow him on Twitter @KyleWIIM
or at SB Nation’s Winging It In Motown