Following a long and frustrating lockout-induced delay, the NHL season opens on Saturday, with a shortened 48-game schedule intact. The Detroit Red Wings will begin their sprint to the finish line in St. Louis — possibly down Todd Bertuzzi, Jakub Kindl, Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson, all of whom are dealing with injuries.
With the season ready to begin, The Detroit Sports Site’s anxious staff is here with its predictions for what’s to come, both for the Red Wings and the rest of the NHL.
And away we go …
1. How many points will the Wings finish with this season?
Chris Burke: I’ve got kind of a mental picture of a record around 25-17-6, which is 56 points. So … 56 points.
Max DeMara: The Red Wings will finish with 59 points this season.
Rob Starrs: I think the Wings will be much better than some predict, but it’s going to be a tough go for every team — 55 points seems to be a safe bet.
Andrew Tomlinson: That is a really tough one, with only 96 available points. I think they will fair well and win about 30 games, so around 60 points.
2. What place will they finish in the Western Conference?
CB: I think 55 points will be right at that No. 4/No. 5
line. I'll say the Wings sneak out home ice in Round 1 but lose the Central to ... someone.
MD: Detroit finishes in fourth place in the Western Conference.
RS: With a jam-packed schedule, I feel like it will be a tight race. They will be either third or fourth.
AT: I think they will come out of the Central, but it will be weaker this year, so, third seed.
3. Who will lead Detroit in scoring?
CB: I think it would be in the Wings' best interest if the answer to this was Henrik Zetterberg (or, even better, Johan Franzen). It's safe to assume Pavel Datsyuk will carry the torch, though.
MD: Henrik Zetterberg will fight off Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula to lead the Red Wings in scoring.
RS: Seeing Pavel Datsyuk do what he was doing in Russia leads me to believe he is poised for an explosion. It's not an off-the-wall pick, but Datsyuk should lead the way.
AT: Pavel Datsyuk. Why is this a question?
4. Who will be the Wings' biggest disappointment?
CB: I'm positive the answer to this will come on the blue line. I'll say Kyle Quincey (again?), but only because Kindl already seems like he's bumbled his way out of the plans.
MD: Johan Franzen will be the biggest disappointment again, and talk around Detroit will become centered on how to get rid of his albatross contract.
RS: I don't like to put anyone in this category, but if someone will disappoint, it may be Jimmy Howard. A slow start could really hurt a goaltender, especially with so many games close together, since he won't be playing as regularly.
AT: It is tough to assume the captaincy so I think Zetterberg may struggle to be a top scorer and top leader.
5. Who will be the Wings' biggest surprise?
CB: I really believe, at some point, Gustav Nyquist is going to wind up a regular part of the lineup -- and that he'll thrive in that role.
MD: The biggest surprises will be both Damian Brunner and Jordan Tootoo, because each will play a bigger role for the Red Wings than many fans want to believe or admit.
RS: The backup goalie is going to play a major roll for every team this season -- look for Jonas Gustavsson to be a key component for the Red Wings.