Originally written on centericechat.com  |  Last updated 10/17/14

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 02: Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit Red Wings looks on from the bench during the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere Stockholm match between Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues at the Ericsson Globe on October 2, 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

The Western Conference’s Central Division has become wild territory for any team to succeed. Niklas Lidstrom skates off the ice in this file photo. He's one of the few components of the Red Wings that remain in doubt after an early playoffs exit. The Detroit Red Wings may have a 21-year streak of clinching the playoffs, and have done so in 26 of their last 28, but there’s work to be done. And if you’re a part of the Red Wings base, falling out in the first round is just unacceptable, let alone third place in the division while losing home ice advantage — the one place the Wings have made history this season. The St. Louis Blues will be back next year for another strong season, the Chicago Blackhawks should be able to bring back a healthy lineup and the Nashville Predators finally have their playoffs vibe, downing the Wings. Detroit is looking like the small fish in the pond, and they need to react, fast. The Niklas Lidstrom era needs to be finished, first of all. Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News went straight at the heart of the Detroit Red Wings, picking apart the team and what the needs are for next season:
“The Red Wings are too old. They are too small. They are too slow. They need a sniper. They need a power forward. They need to replace Nicklas Lidstrom. They need more sandpaper. They need a goon. Their goalie failed to steal some wins.”
The Wings are in fact an older team, they ranked second at the start of the season with an average age of 29.1 years old on average, just behind the veteran team of the New Jersey Devils, which has an average age or 29.34. Meanwhile, the Wings registered just 699 penalty minutes, second least in the league. Nashville was the most disciplined with 689. Of course, none of that dissects clean gritty hits, and the “right” or “wrong” penalties. As for the rest of the claims, it’s up for debate. But Detroit needs a change to be able to compete in what is now the most difficult division to play in. Since being the starting goalie for the Wings, Jimmy Howard hasn’t been able to carry his team past the second round. It may not be the root of all that’s wrong, but perhaps it’s a good place to start looking to make things right.   Matthew Wilson is editor of Center Ice Chat. Follow him on Twitter @Mattjw24. Be sure to also Like us on Facebook and to Follow our Tumblr page. If you'd like to contribute, or appear as a guest columnist, please email us at CenterIceChat@gmail.com.

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