Detroit Red Wings: Gut Check Time For Hockey's Modern Day Dynasty

Chris YoungCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2010

Since the Olympic break, the Detroit Red Wings are on fire with a record of 12-2-1 (six straight wins) making them the hottest team at this point in the NHL season.

They began the season in the sixth spot of the power rankings, but very quickly lost all their marbles. During the 10th week, Detroit was ranked a season-worst 18th.

Detroit lost some key players throughout the season that made a lot of fans and sports shows doubt the Red Wings. Not so much because of the truth, but because it makes for  good TV.

The Wings started out losing Johan Franzen for around four months, one of the biggest blows they could receive, not to mention two other key forwards that went down; Valtteri Filppula and Jason Williams. Defenseman Andreas Lilja went down with concussion-like symptoms.

“I’ve had serious injuries before,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I’ve never had them at the start of the season. The toughest part about the start of the season is that you get injured before you get your confidence. That’s the hardest time."

Goalie Jimmy Howard will most likely be Detroit's MVP this season, with a record of 33-15-9. Howard had received some scrutiny by the fans for Detroit’s bad season, but the truth of it all is the offense hasn’t been up to par ranking 18th at one point in the year (14th as of now).

You could make a case that the Wings' rookie net-minder could be the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy award. He is fourth in the NHL in save percentage and fourth in GAA, only to be on the downside when it comes to overtime, with nine overtime losses.

Jimmy Howard could be the first Red Wing to win the Calder award since the 1964-65 season when Roger Crozier accomplished it as a goaltender.

It is gut check time for hockey's modern day dynasty.

Detroit has established a healthy roster at the right time to make a major impact in the playoffs.

The Red Wings are currently sixth in the Western conference, with the possibility of passing Nashville to be the fifth seed to start the playoffs.

The forward line of Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg, and Todd Bertuzzi has been dynamite at a crucial point in the season, while Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Johan Franzen are starting to pick it up.

Both of these lines are pretty similar, making it hard for teams to match up.

Detroit has six games left to play in the regular season, while having to play Columbus three out of the six. These last games look pretty good for Detroit to jump into the fifth seed, which could put them in the perfect spot to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight season.

Detroit has fared pretty well against the Western Conference (19-12) this year. As of right now Detroit would be facing Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs, who they are 4-1 against during the regular season.

Honestly, Detroit is the team to look out for heading into the playoffs. They currently are the hottest team in the league.

For all you Hockey Town fans, you'd better hope Detroit has passed their gut check and can steam roll through the playoffs, which would grant them the title of best team in the NHL.

If Detroit can reach the Stanley Cup Finals again, they would become one of the best stories to come out of the NHL in some time.