Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images
It’s another installment of Around the Rink, coming to you today on the first day of the NHL postseason. This post takes a look at playoff predictions, roster changes, and the elevation of a player’s game in the postseason.
On Monday, we asked for your thoughts on the Detroit-Columbus first round matchup. Over 110 of you voted in our poll with the majority of you either predicting the Red Wings to win in five or six games. If you haven’t given us your picks yet, please check out the previous edition of Around the Rink to vote in the poll and comment with your thoughts.
A variety of media members and bloggers have shared their predictions for this series so here’s a snapshot of their predictions through Wednesday morning. The Sports Illustrated staff names their Stanley Cup winner and each one has a bracket you can check out. SI hockey writer Michael Farber picked the Wings to win the Cup in back-to-back season and has the Winged Wheel advancing to the Western Conference semifinals after six games. Pierre McGuire, a hockey analyst for NBC and TSN, writes for SI in this week’s issue that he predicts the Wings to win in five. Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch selected the Wings in seven. Bob Wojnowski, a columnist for The Detroit News, believes the Wings will win the series over the Blue Jackets in 5-6 games. AP reporter Ira Podell writes for USA Today that she takes the Wings in 5.
Steph at No Pun Intended is going with the Wings to win it in six games. Thorsten Kaye, who is a soap opera star is blogging for NHL.com, believes that the Wings will succeed if they can simply flip that switch and move themselves onto that next level.
Due to an undisclosed injury, Kris Draper will not play in the first two playoff home games according to reports in the Detroit Free Press. As a result, speedy forward Darren Helm has been recalled from Grand Rapids and inserted into the fourth line. Ansar Khan at MLive.com says that Draper’s injury will snap a 129 consecutive playoff games played streak. In addition, Finnish forward Ville Leino has been recalled from Grand Rapids in case Dan Cleary is not ready to go according to the Detroit Free Press.
Dave Dye of The Detroit News has an article about NHL players making it through the postseason in incredible amounts of pain — all for the glory of winning the Stanley Cup. One of the crazy stories mentioned in the piece was the bit about former Wing Brent Gilchrist and the shot heard around the room before each playoff game in the 1998 postseason.
[John] Wharton would hold one of Gilchrist’s hands. Piet Van Zant, now the Wings trainer, held the other. Gilchrist bit down on a towel. David Collon, the team physician, gave the shot.
“We literally could hear him screaming,” Yzerman said. “It was awful.”
“I walked away,” Holmstrom said. “I didn’t want to hear.”
Finding Another Level
After preseason and 82 regular season games, the Wings enter the postseason for the 18th straight season. Amazingly, the playoffs require teams and athletes to elevate their level of play from the regular season in order to win. For example, Marian Hossa stepped up big with 12 goals and 26 points in the playoffs last year as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ansar Khan of MLive.com took a look at Hossa’s quest for the Cup with the defending champs in a recent article. We saw firsthand Johan Franzen elevate his game last postseason with an impressive 13 tallies in just 16 games.
Yesterday, the Wings updated the ice at Joe Louis Arena to include the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo and made some other modifications around JLA in preparation for Thursday’s playoff opener. You can see what the operations staff did exactly by checking out the video at Red Wings TV. There is also an entertaining “Off the Ice” piece about the Wings’ playoff periods that you’ll definitely want to see as we get ready for the start of the postseason. Speaking of playoff beards, have you joined the Wings’ Beard-A-Thon? For each day that you go without shaving that beard, you can raise money with proceeds benefitting the Detroit Red Wings Foundation.
We’ll be back with another Around the Rink on Friday so until then, be sure to watch the Wings-Blue Jackets first playoff game on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. EDT. Go Wings!