Detroit Red Wings: 5 Players Who Must Step Up for Them to Make a Stanley Cup Run
The regular season is winding down, and the Red Wings are looking to make a run for the Stanley Cup once again.
For most of the season they were at or near the top of the league. A rash of injuries the past six weeks had them dropping down the standings. It remains be seen what effect that will have on the team come playoff time. They were once set for home ice for the playoffs and now are fighting for first-round home ice.
Most of the injured players have returned to the lineup. Now it is just a matter of them shaking off any rust over these final regular season games.
Here are the 5 players who must step up if the team has any hope of a long playoff run.
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Of all the players on this list, the bulk of the weight will rest on Jimmy Howard. Over the first half of the season, he stood with the best in the league.
Injuries have slowed him in the second half of the season. First, there was a broken finger, then twice with a groin injury. Even while playing between injuries, he has looked shaky, although part of that appears to be due to rushing back from the first groin pull.
In the playoffs, the team may come up against such goalie standouts as Pekka Rinne, Jonathan Quick and the dynamic duo in St Louis of Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak.
Detroit will need Howard to play at his All-Star level. Giving up two goals will be too many in most games come playoff time.
Every year, there are teams that ride a hot goalie to win a playoff series. The Wings have often been the victim of such hot goalies. Last season, the Boston Bruins were able to ride the amazing play of Tim Thomas all the way to a championship.
Howard will need to regain his form and the confidence he had in the first half of the season if the Wings have any chance of making a deep playoff run.
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Henrik Zetterberg has had two different seasons.
The first half of the season was bad. Through the first 47 games, he had only nine goals and 25 assists, far below his usual pace.
Over the past 32 games, however, he improved with 13 goals and 21 assists. This has propelled him to the team lead in points.
The team will need Zetterberg to continue his late-season surge. Teams will focus on him as well as Pavel Datsyuk in an effort to shut them down in the playoffs.
While he can always be counted on for his strong defensive play he will need to rise above the attention defenses will have on him to maintain his offensive output.
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Many around the NHL have stated that Datsyuk in the best all-round player in the NHL.
In a stats hungry world, he does not have the showy totals that people look for, but his play goes beyond stats.
At times he is almost too willing to pass the puck instead of taking his own shot. While a little more greediness on his part might be nice, it's hard to argue with the results so far in his career.
There is no question he is the best two-way player in the game. In addition, his puck handling skills are purely amazing. Come playoff time, the team will need him to continue his amazing play and even increase his goal output.
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The beloved Holmstrom is in the midst of his worst season as a pro.
At 39, one can’t help but wonder if this is his last season. His numbers have declined the past few seasons, and this year has been pretty bad.
The Red Wings' power play has been down this season. Holmstrom normally provides a great distraction during power plays. If he is not the one tipping goals in, then he is pestering the goalie and drawing attention that allows his teammates to score.
This season, that is a big element missing from the power play.
He has shown signs of life lately with two goals and an assist in his last four games. In recent games, he was able to provide his usual distraction role, which lead to the team scoring.
Now the question is was that just a flash in the pan or sign resurgence?
Homer has made a name for himself showing up big in the playoffs. Whether it is as his last shot or to show the team that he still has it, he will need to step up big this year.
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Come playoff time, the stars usually rise to the top.
The difference between losing in the first round and making a run for the cup often comes down to the players deeper down the roster. It greatly helps a team when the role players rise to the occasion.
Drew Miller is such an underrated player and scorer. He is seventh on the team in goals with 14, despite being only 18th in ice time. He makes the most out of every shift. Even if not scoring he is one of the great hustle players on the team.
Ideally his play would mean that he would get to move up to a top two line. That has not happened yet, but until it does he needs to continue to be a spark on the team. If he can contribute goals from the fourth line, then it will be a huge boost to the team.
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