After 50 games, the Red Wings are sitting where they have sat for the vast majority of the past 20 years, above 29 other teams. Many competitors have risen and fallen within this time and it was believed the Wings would start to fall as soon as other teams in the Central began to rise.
Fast forward to 2012 and those pundits were only half right. Chicago, Nashville, and St.Louis have all stepped up to the plate and want a piece of the Central Division Title. Unfortunately for them, the Detroit Red Wings have continued there excellence in staying amongst the Elite teams in the NHL once again.
5 Second Half Predictions:
1 • Pavel Datsyuk will contend for the Hart Trophy (Top 3). He will also win the Selke and if the Wings go deep, win the Conn Smythe.
2 • Zetterberg, after a slow start, will notch 60 points and reach 20 goals. (His Shooting % is currently 5.9%, you have to believe that isn't going to stick.)
3 • Ty Conklin will get 7 starts, nearly doubling his 10 in the first 50.
4 • Despite only getting 25 starts, Jimmy Howard will tie Martin Brodeurs Wins Record at 48. He currently sits at 30 Wins and needs an 18-7 record to achieve this.
5 • Ken Holland will pull the trigger and bring in a top-six forward at the deadline. Rumors have the Red Wings poking around the Oilers and Ales Hemsky. We'll see.
Looking back at my predictions for the team at the start of the season:
1st in Central
3rd in Conference
(I wish I took a stab at the Wins column at the beginning of the year...)
Currently the Wings are on pace for 110 points on the season. I may have over estimated individual points, but, I underestimated the teams overall points.
The Red Wings have, to some extent, surprised me a bit. I believed they would be a challenger but I didn't expect them to be sitting at the top of the standings at the All-Star break. It's a pleasant surprise.
The biggest challenge for the Wings to stay on the top is the competition within the Central. I don't think Chicago will continue there success based on there defensive and goaltending struggles but it's always possible there offense keeps them chugging. I see them finishing in the 4-6 spot. Nashville is Nashville, always good, never great. St.Louis is my biggest fear. They are good up and down the lineup and with the help of Ken Hitchcock, look to push us to the limits for the Central crown. I feel a new rivalry brewing.
Oh, and then there is Columbus...
I don't believe we will win the Presidents Trophy with Vancouver picking on the youngin's in the Northeast and Boston and New York dominating the entire Eastern Conference. I do, however, see us sitting in a 1-4 spot at seasons end and having first round home ice advantage.
Let's get this second half over with and be ready for the real season to begin!