Originally written on Detroit4lyfe  |  Last updated 11/9/14

With the Red Wings sitting at the top of the Western conference (along with the Vancouver Canucks), they have the right mix of health and hunger to get deep into the postseason. Couple that with their league-best home record -- including an NHL record 23-game home winning streak -- and a favorable first round matchup, I think that this is the year that the Wings return to the Stanley Cup Finals.

...

Unfortunately, that was the storylline near the end of February, when the Wings were on top of a brutal Central Division race and staring at the likes of the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks or Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. Fast forward one month -- a stretch in which the Wings went 5-9-3 -- and they are now heading to Nashville to face the solid if unspectacular Predators in the first round.

The Wings' skid to the regular season finish line has many fans concerned about whether they are ready to ramp up for yet another playoff run (their 21st consecutive, for the record). After two consecutive 2nd round exits against the San Jose Sharks, there is always the nagging pressure to get back to the Western Conference Finals and beyond.

There are detractors that say that the Wings are... well, pick your excuse. Too old, too banged up, not tough enough, you've heard all the reasons. Are they right? That remains to be seen (and these playoffs still might not even answer those questions).

And then, there are the fans that believe solely in this principle. Peg me into this category.

Admittedly, I have not watched a lot of hockey over the past month and a half. Living out of town + life + excuses, etc. However, I was able to watch the Wings' final regular season game (against the aforementioned Blackhawks), and came away with the impression that this team is simply biding its time, waiting until the playoffs to make their big move.

I'm not saying that the Wings dawdled their way through the final month of the season. First, I don't believe that professional athletes are wired in a way that allows them to simply say "Eh, this game doesn't matter." These guys are hypercompetitive nearly all of the time. It's why they are where they are. That being said, I don't think that there has been a lot of pressure in the Wings' locker room to tighten everything up until now.

Facing a 2-1 deficit in the 3rd period of their last game and with a trip to Los Angeles looming, the Wings stepped their game up in a major way. A game-tying goal just felt inevitable, and it was. Once again, the Wings turned it on when it counted and did what they had to do in order to avoid a cross-continent playoff series.

Does this mean that I think that the Wings will win the Stanley Cup? They sure as hell have an uphill battle against them. Nashville is now more skilled than they have been in playoff series past, and those train whistles are annoying as ****. The Western conference, like usual, is absolutely loaded. The Canucks are no doubt looking to get back to the Finals after losing Game 7 in their own building last season. The New York Rangers look like they will blaze through the Eastern conference and have plenty left in the tank for whoever escapes the gauntlet that is the West.

Still, despite all these obstacles, the Wings are one of the few teams in this league with the skill to beat everyone I have just mentioned. There is a reason that they were once the scenario I laid out at the top of this post: because they were there. They could very well be the team we've seen slop through the past month, or they could be the team that made Joe Louis Arena a living hell for opposing teams for the four months prior to that point. We won't know for at least another couple weeks which team the Red Wings are, but the answers will start to come tomorrow night at 8.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Izzo: MSU could win football, basketball titles in same year

Durant ‘would love to’ spend entire career with Thunder

Elementary school sportswriter has hot take on Cam Newton

Romo was willing to take pay cut to keep DeMarco Murray

Marcus Mariota reportedly not planning to attend NFL draft

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Alabama RB dismissed from team after marijuana arrest

Golden Tate: Departure of Suh won't pressure Lion's offense

Are the Angels being overlooked?

Team USA improves before meltdown in Swiss draw

USC AD skips meeting in Indiana: ‘I am the proud father of a gay son’

David Ortiz clarifies part of essay in The Players' Tribune

WATCH: Spoelstra gives nice shoutout to Craig Sager

WATCH: Drew Miller takes skate to the face

WATCH: Gronk describes his perfect wife

Reigning National Champions to boycott Final Four in Indiana

This isn’t Tom Izzo’s greatest March masterpiece

New development clears path for Rams relocation

WATCH: J.J. Watt sings about stadium food on 'New Girl'

Kings ready to shut down DeMarcus Cousins

Jameis Winston may skip NFL draft to be with grandmother

Phillies to sell hard liquor, wine at Citizens Bank Park

Jason Dufner, wife Amanda getting a divorce

Top 10 players in baseball

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Durant wants to spend career in OKC

This isn’t Tom Izzo’s greatest March masterpiece

Are the Angels being overlooked?

Top 20 players in the Final Four

Top 10 players in baseball

Report: Tiger's plane spotted in Augusta

Moss shares story on meeting Deion

Five coaches already on the hot seat

Can we envision the Hawks in the Finals?

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.