The Greatest Strength of Each Sochi-Bound Detroit Red Wing

Isaac SmithAnalyst IJanuary 31, 2014

The Greatest Strength of Each Sochi-Bound Detroit Red Wing

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Detroit Red Wings may not be healthy enough to play well as a team, but the nine Red Wings who will represent their countries at the Olympics each bring something unique to the table for their countries.

    The Wings previously had 10 Olympians, but earlier today, reported that Johan Franzen would miss the Olympics due to a concussion.

    So with Franzen out of the picture, what do the remaining Red Wings bring to their teams?

    Here is the greatest strength of each Red Wings Olympian.

    Greatest strength in this sense means ability or talent that their team would be missing if said player didn't play.

Pavel Datsyuk, Puck Possession/Vision

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    When Pavel Datsyuk has the puck it is tough to gauge what he will do with it. Datsyuk's vision with the puck helps him set up teammates (or himself) for highlight-reel goals when he is healthy.

    Combine his vision with the fact that it is extremely difficult to knock Datsyuk off the puck and one can see where opponents have problems shutting him down for an entire game, offensively.

    While Datsyuk is a premiere two-way center, his ability to hold the puck and feed his teammates the puck at the Olympics will result in some serious matchup issues for other teams.

Tomas Tatar, Ability to Protect the Puck and Get to the Net

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Although Tomas Tatar has been inconsistent at times this season, the 23-year-old Slovakian Olympian will be a welcomed addition to his squad in the Olympics due to his ability to get to the net on a consistent basis.

    Tatar has 12 goals in 44 games this year, but he has nine goals over his past 24 contests, more during that span than all but six players on Detroit have for the season.

    Tatar will need to continue to take the puck to the net, as he will be counted on talent-wise to get into the act offensively.

Tomas Jurco, Ability to Exceed Expectations

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Tomas Jurco will join Tatar on Team Slovakia and he will be the second-youngest player on the team behind Edmonton's Martin Marincin, who is just two months younger than Jurco.

    Jurco will be valued on his team for his ability to exceed expectations. There are a few ways he has done that for the Detroit Red Wings so far this season.

    Jurco stepped into the Red Wings lineup this season due to injuries.

    Before coming to Detroit, Jurco was quietly leading the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring, but his five points in 14 games in Detroit, along with his above-average defensive-zone coverage for a rookie, have proved him a valuable addition to the Red Wings.

    Team Slovakia will benefit from what he has taken in his time with Detroit, as he will be matched up against superior talent from other teams' top lines. He will be counted on to exceed expectations, especially if those expectations aren't that high to start.

Jonathan Ericsson, Defensive Zone Net-Front Presence

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Three years ago, the Red Wings blue line looked a little different.

    Jonathan Ericsson had just re-upped with the Red Wings on what Bleacher Report's P.J. Sapienza suggested to be a "panic button" move. 

    The massive Swedish defenseman wasn't playing as physically as he could have been and seemed at times to be lacking in his ability or willingness to lay the body on opposing teams' players.

    This is no longer the case. Although Ericsson isn't the fastest skater in the world, he has blossomed into a more physical, bruising defenseman who is tough to play against.

    Team Sweden will reap the benefits of his physicality.

Daniel Alfredsson, Ability to Generate Hard Shots from an Open Space

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Daniel Alfredsson is still a threat to contribute on the scoresheet on most nights because he understands how to get open on the ice. Once he gets open, Alfredsson uses his bullet of a slap shot and accurate wrist shot to bury the puck in the back of the net.

    Although Alfredsson is 41 years old and no longer skates like he used to, his hockey sense is just as high as it has ever been.

    Team Sweden will hope that Alfredsson can find space on the ice to let a few more of his patented rockets go in during the Olympics.

Henrik Zetterberg, Ability to Do Everything That Is Asked of Him

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Henrik Zetterberg may not be "Superman," but he has been the Red Wings' go-to player this season.

    Zetterberg, captain of Team Sweden at Sochi, will be asked to (once again) do everything for Team Sweden and do everything well.

    If Zetterberg is up to his usual par, Sweden will be well on their way to trying to repeat their 2006 Olympic performance where the team won gold at the Torino games.

Jonas Gustavsson, Ability to Come in Cold

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    Tom Mihalek/Associated Press

    Jonas Gustavsson turned a corner this season, as far as his career is concerned. He has 13 wins in just 21 appearances, playing half the games that he did in 2011-12, but winning just four less games.

    The lanky Swedish backup goaltender will have to do what he has done all season for Detroit—be ready to be excellent at a moment's notice.

    Hopefully Gustavsson doesn't have to watch No. 1 Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist go down with an injury, but it never hurts to be ready.

Niklas Kronwall, Ability to Play All Situations/Be a Workhorse

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Niklas Kronwall has an uncanny ability to play in all situations and play all positions fairly well at that.

    Team Sweden gets a physical, puck-moving defenseman in Kronwall, who plays the power play, penalty kill and even strength numbers with equal aptitude.

    He also has the ability to be paired with almost anyone on Team Sweden's deep defense corps. That list includes Erik Karlsson, Alex Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and others.

    Kronwall will be well used and appreciated at the Olympics.

Jimmy Howard, Warrior Tendency

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Jimmy Howard probably has a chip on his shoulder going into these Olympics as the "third-best" American goalie on the roster.

    Howard has had three straight 35-win seasons in full seasons before last year's lockout but has been unable to advance his Red Wings past the second round of the playoffs in his career.

    This season, Howard has an egregiously bad record, has allowed soft goals and to top it all off he has been injured a lot as well. But Howard never gives up on himself and will not give up on his country, should he be forced into game action at the Olympics.

    He led the Red Wings to an almost upset of the No. 1 seed Chicago Blackhawks in last year's playoffs and with that experience, should Howard get to play, he will be well prepared for any adversity that comes along.


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