The Detroit Red Wings are closing in on what will be their 21st consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That record is the longest active streak of consecutive postseason appearances in any of the four major North American sports by far.
Despite a very stellar record, Detroit still finds themselves immersed in a Central Division battle with the equally impressive St. Louis Blues.
Losing the division wouldn't be the end of the world for a team of Detroit's caliber, but having home ice advantage is vital, especially for a team that's almost unbeatable in their own arena.
Detroit is poised to make a long playoff run, but in order to make it to the Cup, they'll need these players to either keep playing well, or start showing up.
Excluding Jimmy Howard, Datsyuk has been the Red Wings' MVP for the 2011-2012 NHL regular season.
Datsyuk has 59 points in 59 games and is once again finding himself in the race for the Selke trophy, a prize which he has dominated in recent years.
Certainly the Russian hasn't done anything wrong this season, but with a surgery for knee maintenance sidelining him, the three-time Selke winner needs to come back every bit as good as he was before his surgery.
Detroit is currently 1-3-1 without Datsyuk this year, which isn't a very promising record. Certainly they can go on without him, but it'll take more of an effort from the team to do it.
Franzen has arguably been the Wings' best scorer since Brendan Shanahan left the team before the lockout. With that scoring talent, however, has come a lot of inconsistency.
The Mule has become notorious for scoring five goals in one game. and then going a month without scoring again.
When the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2008, Franzen broke a franchise record scoring nine goals in one series that lasted just four games. The Red Wings won't need him to be as unstoppable as he was then, but they'll need him to score nonetheless.
He certainly has the talent, but if the Red Wings are going to go deep in the playoffs, Franzen will have to score consistently, or somebody else will have to pick up the slack.
When Jonathan Ericsson first came into the NHL with the Red Wings during 2009, he looked like a promising NHL defender. Since then, he hasn't quite lived up to expectations.
Granted, Ericsson is only a third pairing defenseman who takes less minutes than others, but he still needs to show up nonetheless.
If Ericsson keeps turning over pucks like he did before his wrist injury, the Wings are going to be in trouble when he's out on the ice.
During the series with the San Jose Sharks in 2011, Ericsson was notorious for turning the puck over to the Sharks and giving them countless scoring chances. In order for the Red Wings to go far, Ericsson will have to pick up his game and become less of a liability.
Yes, that's right, Gustav Nyquist. The current Grand Rapids Griffin will have to show up in the playoffs.
Patrick Eaves currently suffers from post-concussion symptoms, and his outlook for returning this season is very doubtful. During the playoffs, Nyquist will certainly be a black ace.
There's almost always an injury opening up a roster spot, and Nyquist might be given the chance to show Detroit what he's capable of. If he gets that chance, look out.
Nyquist is a forward projected to be a first line or second line player. His playmaking was already good, and it's said that his shot is getting better.
If Nyquist gets the chance, his hunger to be on the Red Wings' roster for a long duration could motivate him to explode out of the gate.
Not the Henrik Zetterberg we've been seeing all season either. This year is by far Zetterberg's worst with the Red Wings.
Currently, Zetterberg only has 51 points in 64 games. For most players, that's great, but for someone of Zetterberg's caliber, it's not too impressive.
Whether it's injuries, lack of motivation or just bad luck this season, Zetterberg needs to snap the cold streak he's been in this year.
When the Red Wings won the Cup in 2008, Zetterberg won the Conn-Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. In order for the Red Wings to win the Cup again, Zetterberg will have to step up his game and return to regular form.
Jordan Matthews is a Featured Columnist for the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL. For more coverage, you can read his recent articles here: