The Detroit Red Wings may have had a struggling start, but they have proved why they are still the dominant team in the Western Conference. All the key players are in position to join together to make a strong run for the Stanley Cup.
At the start of their season, the Wings needed to find what they had to do to help them click as a team and to discover their winning ways.
Now the Wings need to find what they have to do during the final march toward the Cup.
Everyone is in position. The pieces are moving. All of them have their eyes focused on the grand prize: the Stanley Cup.
At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader, the Red Wings need to stay and be aggressive. They've developed a new style of aggressive defense this year, and so far it's paying off.
They need to take that type of aggression and bring it up to another level. There are some players that have been making some poor decisions on defense. Niklas Kronwall, to name one, has been displaying moments of poor decision-making that have resulted in a turnover and in some cases, a goal by the opposition. Everyone needs to start playing smart defense and handle the puck accordingly.
Coach Babcock wanted his team to commit better to defense this year, and they've done it. They are fifth in the league overall in goals against at 2.2 goals allowed per game.
They have a better team defense than they had last year. If they keep up this aggressiveness, it'll be of great aid to them in their playoff run.
Along with their defense, the Wings are backed up by their goalie, Jimmy Howard.
He became the first goaltender this season to reach 30 wins for the second consecutive year. This is a goalie on the way to greatness. Howard is one of the main reasons for the success of the Wings' defense. He claims the defense helps put off more pressure at the net.
He has a .926 saving percentage with a record thus far of 30-10-1.
What Howard needs to do is keep up his amazing work. Apart from the rocky start the previous night against the Montreal Canadiens, he's on fire. He's already playing at an elite level.
His success in the goal will impact the Wings' success.
They say the best defense has a relentless offense.
It works if you control the puck most of the time. That's what the Wings have been doing well this season, hogging the puck in the offensive zone. It has paid off well.
They are currently fifth in the league overall in goals per game, scoring an average of 3.1 goals a game. The Wings need to keep up with controlling the puck the longest. It aids in receiving more tries in scoring.
The one area where the Wings have struggled this whole season is on the penalty kill. They've improved on their power play, but it's trying to stop their opponents' PP that seems to rattle them.
Power plays are important in the playoffs. Most playoff teams easily take advantage of them. The Wings need to work on killing them if they want to stay in the game. Having a strong power kill can cool off an opponent's fire.
Of the 117 goals the Wings have surrendered this season, 32 of them have come off of power plays to opposing teams. While their penalty kill has improved from last year, it is in need of much improvement before they enter the playoffs.
The Red Wings currently have a 17-game winning streak at home, dating all the way back to November 3rd. Their home-ice advantage is their stronghold. Last year, the Wings struggled at home, allowing 3.1 goals per game during the 2010-11 season. They were ranked 29th in the league.
This year at home, they've allowed 1.8 goals a game.
Like Howard says, "Winning never gets old," especially winning at home. Keeping a strong home record can help if a team can carry that into the playoffs. With the Wings at the top of the Central Division and the Western Conference, it's likely they may end up getting home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
They need to work on achieving that. With their strong home record, the Wings can advance to the next round by winning their home games during the playoffs.
Besides, there's nothing like winning the Cup in Hockeytown.