I know it's not going to make fans of these two teams happy, but let's face it, the Flyers and Red Wings are not elite teams anymore.
I am not saying they stink or that they can't make the playoffs or even win a round or two. What I am saying is that after years of being among the best teams in the game, Detroit and Philadelphia have come back to the pack and are just two pretty good hockey teams.
Both clubs have been hurt by inconsistency. One weekend, the Red Wings are capable of shutting out Nashville 4-0 and crushing Vancouver 8-3 and then two weeks later, they are swept in a home-and-home against the Blue Jackets.
Philadelphia looked great crushing the Islanders 7-0 and then winning in Pittsburgh but is just as capable of playing flat in a bad loss to Florida or giving up three quick goals in a shutout defeat against the Bruins.
The Red Wings are in transition. The loss of Nicklas Lidstrom hurt this team and quite honestly, they have nobody to replace him just yet. That's the thing about once in a generation players like Lidstrom, they don't come around all that often and we often don't fully appreciate the value of a player until we have to do without them.
Even on offense, some of Detroit's best players are older and while newcomers have potential, we just don't know how well they will do over the long run and more importantly, how they will perform in the playoffs when it matters most.
In Philadelphia, the team hasn't been the same since Chris Pronger was knocked out of the lineup with a concussion. It's easy to blame goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, but if you watch the Flyers play over several games, you can see their defensive coverage is a problem. They just have key breakdowns at poor moments and while Bryzgalov is not a world beater right now, he's not the main cause of Philly's defensive shortcomings.
This is a time of transition for both the Flyers and the Red Wings. Both teams have GMs with proven track records and ownership dedicated to producing a winning team. It's not time to panic in either city, but it is time to realize that a new era is beginning and that right now, neither team is special the way they have been in recent seasons.
It should also be comforting for fans of both of these teams to know that ownership will do what is necessary to keep their teams competitive for the long haul.