by Danielle Fecteau
With a new head coach and some innovative free-agent additions this season, the Red Wings are looking to make their 25th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jeff Blashill, former coach of Detroit’s American Hockey League in Grand Rapids, has replaced Mike Babcock, as Babcock has assumed the position of Toronto Maple Leafs’ coach.
As the first new Red Wings coach in a decade, Blashill is hoping that their new additions (Mike Green, defenseman, and Brad Richards, center) will help the team to go further into the playoffs than in previous years.
“I’m focused on what we have to do to make sure we are one of the eight teams in the conference that makes the playoffs,” Blashill told USA Today. He explained that in order for a Stanley Cup win, playoffs need to be the Wings’ only goal.
Star player, Pavel Datsyuk, will begin the season on the bench due to a June surgery on his ankle. It is unclear when the team’s number one center will be able to play again but Blashill is hoping for, at the latest, a November recovery.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg and center Tomas Tatar are expected to lead the team to victory along with newcomer Richards. Tatar and Richards are already building a strong connection demonstrated by Richards assisting Tatar on three goals in their first pre-season game against Chicago on Sept. 23. The Wings came out victorious with a score of 4-1.
Along with players like Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Johan Franzen, the Wings boast a strong forward lineup.
The addition of Green brings a strong offensive energy to the defensemen this season. This season he will be paired with Danny DeKeyser, an efficient defenseman. They’ll follow Niklas Kronwall and Jonathon Ericsson, who will lead the defensive unit. Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl will be the third pair of defensemen.
The battle for the number one goaltending spot is between Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. After sustaining a groin injury in January, Howard had to miss a month of ice time.
Howard had maintained the role as number one goaltender since the 2010-2011 season until he could no longer play up to his usual standards last season. Mrazek stepped in and started as goaltender in all seven games of their first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Both goalies are experienced, boding well for the Blashill and the Red Wings. The team is looking stronger than ever and Blashill is determined to help them reach new heights in the 2015-2016 season.