The Post-Lidstrom Era Begins
What Lidstrom gave to the Red Wings wasn’t anything flashy. Sure, he had a few highlight-reel moments across his 20-year career, but what made the Sturdy Swede so effective on the ice was his game-management ability. He rarely made mistakes, always knew where to be, and Detroit fans could always breath a sigh of relief when they saw that #5 on the ice.
So what have the Red Wings done to replace their Captain?
Well honestly, not too much. Apart from losing Lidstrom, the Wings also lost another key player from their 4 most recent Stanley Cup runs, Tomas Holmstrom. The #1 enemy for all opposing goaltenders, Holmstrom made a career of posting himself up in front of the net and either deflecting slapshots to throw off the goalie or just merely providing a 6’0”, 202-pound blinder in front of the net.
The biggest additions for the Wings this offseason were Wingers Mikael Samuelsson and Damien Brunner as well as former Blues Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo. Samuelsson has a deadly slap-shot and had a lot of success in his last stint in Detroit, while Brunner is a rookie that has received a lot of buzz.
Yet overall, it was a strangely quiet offseason for a team that’s used to making more headlines than just about any other NHL franchise. They lost out on the Suter and Parise bidding matches and in result, they’ll be fielding a team that looks quite a bit like last year’s team, which only made it 5 games into the playoffs.
Henrik Zetterberg has become the new Red Wings Captain, and only the team’s third since 1986 (Yzerman and Lidstrom proudly held down the “C” all those years). He’ll again lead a front-line with Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi, but after a disappointing season where he totaled 22 goals (lowest since 2004) and 69 points (lowest since ’07), the new Captain will need to deliver in a big way in order for the Wings to be one of the top teams in the West.
Under a similar amount of pressure is Niklas Kronwall, now the team’s top Defenseman. He’s flourished in the past couple years in a supporting role, but now he’ll need to be the leader of the defense, skating alongside Ian White, who put together a solid campaign in his first season in Detroit last year.
The Wings open up their season on Saturday, when they travel to St. Louis to take on the defending Central Division Champions. Don’t expect that 21-straight-playoffs streak to come to an abrupt halt without Lidstrom out there, but things may not come quite as easy this time around for the Wings.