For the 23rd straight season, the Wings will suit up for hockey’s second season, this time as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference—their lowest finish during the streak.
The No. 8 associated with the Wings' playoff seed is just a number to Detroit as it prepares to make its 23rd appearance a special one. The Red Wings have stabilized recently, balancing their veteran leadership with a newfound abundance of youth.
With veteran guidance comes experience, savvy and the drive to return Detroit to its former glory. Its youth brings confidence, energy and the ambition to see their names engraved next to the champions of yore.
For Detroit, there are a number of players who will need to contribute in multiple facets. Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar will be significant figures in Detroit’s first-round series against Boston, but five others will need to step up if Detroit is to survive.
Hockey kicks up to a higher level come playoff time. No lead is safe and no victory comes hollow. Players define themselves as heroes or goats, and the fate of a season can change in mere seconds.
These five players are key to the team’s system, and their intangibles can be the facilitators for an opening-round upset.