NHL Realignment: How Would the Detroit Red Wings Stack Up Against the East?
When's the last time the Detroit Red Wings played the Washington Capitals?
Am I the only Wings fan drooling at the possibility of watching Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg play against Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Ryan Miller and all the other stellar talent in the East?
Never mind the logistical sense that the move makes for the Wings, and how much avoiding teams like San Jose and Vancouver in the playoffs could help them stay well rested during deeper playoff runs.
This could lead to some great hockey!
Not that Detroit doesn't have plenty of great teams to play in the West (arguably the stronger Conference overall). There are just some great potential rivalries that could form if a move takes place. Imagine the Wings and Bruins facing off six times a year and tell me you don't get some goosebumps.
Toss in an Eastern Conference Finals series against the likes of the Pens of the Flyers?
That's a lot of history, and would lead to some exciting playoff rounds with passionate fans. While the Red Wings heading East is far from a done deal, there are some intriguing match-ups there that make this a very exciting prospect.
So how would Detroit match up against the top eight seeds in the East from this last season?
Detroit Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins
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This is the big pull for some hockey fans, right? All the Original Six games that would be added for the Red Wings if they moved to the Eastern Conference.
While there isn't an initial rivalry here, there would be a little bit more to the atmosphere in Joe Louis Arena when the Bruins visited. The games between such old, storied franchises with fanbases that have had the game passed down to them just tends to create static.
History aside, how would the teams fare against each other these days?
It's hard to look at Boston's roster and feel that they aren't set up for the next several years to be a dominant presence in the East. Boasting veteran players like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara while still having the cupboards stocked with young talents like Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask, this is a team set up for the long haul.
This would be a team to contend with for at least another decade.
Boston is already making noise in the conference by surprising no one and coming out to represent the East in the Cup Finals, and they'll only get better from here.
In the mildly top-heavy East, the Bruins are among the cream teams, and would prove an outstanding measuring stick for Detroit season in and season out.
How fun would it be to watch Darren Helm try to beat Chara to the outside edge?
Detroit Red Wings vs. Philadelphia Flyers
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Just the thought of running into Chris Pronger in the playoffs again makes me wake up in the middle of the night with the cold sweats.
To be honest, this is the only negative I see in Detroit moving to the Eastern Conference.
I jest, but any Detroit fan will tell you that Pronger has been a Wings killer since his days in St. Louis. Toss in his run with Edmonton and his reign of terror in Anaheim?
Outside of Prongs, the Flyers are still a very strong, gritty team that could give the Red Wings fits in starts come a 7 Game series. Could the Wings prevail? Well, sure. But this would be a tough second round match-up.
I've always had Philly pegged as the team that could bring down the Penguins with consistency in the playoffs due to their outrageous strength at the center position. The same goes for Detroit. The Flyers can match up with Wings in ways they may not be quite used to in the West.
The Flyers are only a goaltender away from taking a few serious runs at the Cup—how interesting would it be if the road to the Finals ran through Detroit for Philadelphia, and vice versa? From a hockey fan perspective, very.
From a Wings fan perspective? Not so fun.
But the best teams rise to challenges. This would be a great, hotly contested match-up for both squads.
Detroit Red Wings vs. New York Rangers
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The Detroit Red Wings vs New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final?
The Rangers have started to carve out an identity as a hardworking, gritty team that scores goals through jam and hard work. Brandon Dubinsky is one of the best heart and soul guys in the league and is only just now coming into his prime.
And, as seems to be the case for several teams in the East, the Rangers have one of the better goaltenders out there in Henrik Lundqvist.
Could the Wings solve him on a night by night basis?
Hard telling as the schedules are set up now. The Red Wings and Rangers (that just has a ring to it, doesn't it?) put on a very entertaining game in February—would that become the norm for these two squads?
Should the Wings move to the East, they will have plenty of gut check tests against teams like the Rangers and Flyers.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Red Wings and Penguins always seemed to bring out the best in each other. Too bad they only end up playing each other consistently in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Of course that was two years ago, but only the most forgetful of hockey fans have forgotten about the epic seven game tussle between these two teams.
On top of being supremely skilled (when healthy), they never really got along too well, either. They scrummed and hit with the best of 'em, all while still playing talent-driven, puck possession, "wow, how did he know that guy was there for the pass?" hockey.
And that is the game at its very best. That finesse and skill with that scuffled edge and grit.
Put that on the ice several times a year and sit your football-loving cousin in front of the TV for 10 minutes, and he is hooked. Guaranteed.
With the Penguins best players into their primes now—granted Crosby can get back to his previous levels—and with several top prospects coming up in the Red Wings system, fireworks could continue to fly between these two teams for the next decade or so.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
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The storyline in these games, at first, would be Steve Yzerman's "new" team facing off against the Wings.
With the kind of offensive prowess that would be on display in these games I don't think that this would remain the focus for long.
Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Victor Hedman and Ryan Malone all on the ice against Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom (we hope!) and Johan Franzen?
Is this the Olympics or what?
That's a lot of juice and jump for one NHL ice surface to contain, and the fans would be the beneficiaries.
I feel like Tampa is in the same boat as Boston in that they have talented veterans as well as a contingent of young players on the rise. Could Darren Helm catch a streaking Stamkos? Or how would St. Louis and Datsyuk dazzle us with their vision and puck magnetism?
These two teams on the ice would dazzle, and I don't think there would be an abundance of physicality. Just a lot of Sportscenter top-10 plays packed into one game.
What about you?
Detroit Red Wings vs. Washington Capitals
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This is a matchup that happens something like once every two or three years. The photo I used for this slide was from October 10, 2009 and that was the last time the two teams played each other.
Which is a bummer for several reasons.
These two teams have annually been among the best in the league, and getting them onto the ice together as frequently as possible would only benefit the NHL. Both squads boast loud fans, and if they ever met in the postseason, fireworks would fly between the two young-ish fanbases.
Then there is the Datsyuk vs Ovechkin matchup. I'd DVR playoff games between one of the most explosive payers in the game today and one of the smoothest two way forwards ever. A cat and mouse game of the utmost intensity, getting these two countrymen to faceoff a few times a year is almost worth the move alone.
Thankfully, however, there are other reasons that the Wings and Caps would make for entertaining hockey.
Both teams boast deep, talented forward cores that would push each other game in and game out. And watching how Mike Green responded to playing against one of the greatest defenders of all time in Nick Lidstrom is an intriguing possibility. Green hasn't lived up to his reputation recently, but the guy can still flat out play.
Both teams draft obscenely well and would be pushing for first overall in the conference for years to come.
Detroit Red Wings vs Buffalo Sabres
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Good, fast, kinetic hockey is what comes to mind when thinking about the Sabres playing the Wings
The Sabres are one of the teams on the upswing in the East, with new owner Terry Pegula infusing the club with money to spend. The first big step was taken when the team signed Drew Stafford to a four year, $16 million dollar deal.
There are plenty of talented players on this Sabres team headed directly for their prime, and with Ryan Miller in net, the Sabres have a chance to win nearly every game that they play.
The two teams play fast paced hockey that could create some very entertaining four or five minute stretches between the two teams. Both Lindy Ruff and Mike Babcock are top-tier coaches in the league, and the ensuing chess match between the two could be a fun one.
What happens when Tyler Myers steps onto the ice against Kronwall on the other side? Through a playoff series, both are capable of laying out some monstrous hits. And could Jimmy Howard out-duel the American born wonder-kid in Ryan Miller?
Take all these elements, roll them up into a few games during the regular season, coupled with a few playoff rounds, and this could be one of the better, more fun match-ups for the Wings in the East.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Canadians
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This is another Original Six match-up that would have fans on both sides salivating.
Seriously, can you imagine a home-and-home series between these two squads? Bot sets of fans trying to cheer louder than the other—how thunderous would those National Anthems be during a playoff series?
And I guess the teams would get down to hockey eventually. While the Habs may have a pretty solid rivalry running with the Bruins right now, adding the Wings to the mix could turn it into a three or four way love fest for all!
And by love fest, I mean playoff intensity in December.
These two teams have not played each other often, but needless to say, a few years in, this could be a fiery one.
Could the Eurotwins down Carey Price on a regular basis? Or crack that top-10 defense? Montreal were only a few games behind Boston this year and are quite a bit underrated on this side of the border.
One of the greatest player rivalries ever was between Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe, and lore of the battles between these two teams who have been facing off since 1926 still has to be running through the veins of players and fans alike.
The Habs and Wings have already played each other 566 times during the regular season and 62 times in the playoffs. I'm game for more.