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Red Wings Pass On Rebuilding: Make Moves For a Third Consecutive Finals Berth

Nate MasseyContributor ISeptember 17, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 29:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings is congratulated by teammates Tomas Holmstrom #96, Brian Rafalski #28, Marian Hossa #81 and Nicklas Lidstrom #5 after Datsyuk scored a first period power play goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the NHL game at Honda Center on October 29, 2008 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Red Wings are making a run for their third Finals appearance in as many years. In an offseason that saw the departure of Jiri Hudler (23 goals), Mikael Samuelsson (19 goals), Marian Hossa (40 goals), and all 205 pounds of Tomas Kopecky, offense is not the only question mark the Red Wings will be facing this offseason.

Goaltending

The biggest question this season will be who will we see this season: Osgood or Osbad? Which player will show up?

Chris Osgood was shaky at best during the regular season last year, posting a .887 save percentage and allowing 3.09 goals a game. Without safety net Ty Conklin, can Osgood provide the goal-tending necessary to win the Central?

Jimmy Howard may be called upon at some point in the season during an "Osgoodian slump." Howard must improve if the Wings are to prosper.

Defense

Defense must be the focus this preseason. Detroit finished first in goals against in 2007-08 and second in 2006-07 only to be 19th in 2008-09.

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If Detroit is to successfully manage their loss of scoring talent they must return to their defensive form. A key to this might be the young Jonathan Erickson. After a strong postseason, the Red Wings will look to him for a physical boost on the blue line.

Offense

The Red Wings lost nearly a third of the goals they scored last year through free agency.

Ville Leino is expected to be a huge contributor this year to help compensate. Leino looked strong during his brief stint with the Red Wings last season, scoring on his first NHL shift. As he prepares to wing the third line, will he live up to expectations?

PK/PP

Jason Williams has made a return to the Red Wings in his eighth NHL season. He will most likely take Samuelsson's spot on the second power play unit.

The power play was a huge boost to the Red Wings last season but may not be as effective with the loss of personnel.

The Red Wings have to find a way to kill penalties. Seventy-eight percent will not cut it in the strong Central Division.

Grit

This Detroit team may be the grittiest of the last decade. The addition of Bertuzzi and development of Erickson and Abdelkader provides big bodied skill players who are not afraid to throw down. This may play a huge role in keeping Detroit's skill players fresh down the road, especially in the post season.

Detroit may have a hard time fighting off Chicago this year for the division crown, but look for them to continue their postseason dominance. Once again winning the big games and making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

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