To say the least the team play of the HFNHL Red Wings has been a pleasant surprise for Detroit's fans and management. Heading in to the season many, self included, figured the Wings to be a bubble team with a 50% chance at best of making the play-offs. While this is still somewhat true with teams like the Av's Preds, and Sharks all in close striking distance ready to take away that spot should the team even stumble a little the Wings chose to be positive and look up. The Wings have done their best to keep conference rivals St. Louis and Columbus close and honest and hope to dog them till season end.
So why have the Wings overachieved? Mainly though team defense and discipline. The team has the 3rd best shots against average, has minimized the number of penalties it takes, and for the few shots that do get through King Henrik has been more than capable. With these factors coming together Detroit can boast the leagues best goals against average.
Offensively things have been a bit tougher for the Wings. The teams leading goal scorer is Grabovski with a mere 13 goals and only two others (Giroux and Lidstrom) just recently hit the 10 goal plateau for the year.
There are a few bright spots offensively led by the ageless wonder Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom continues to defy father time as he is leading the team in offense for the umpteenth season with 36 points in 41 games and, after normalizing for games played, is on pace to challenge for the Norris trophy. Briere has recently found his offense again and has leap frogged several Wings into second place in point production.
What the second half of the season holds is one full of uncertainty as GM Niece continues to make it clear that, with only a couple of exceptions, he is open to discussing trade for any roster player and some picks or prospects. Will he destroy the chemistry through trade? Where will the easy points come from with no matchups remaining against St. Louis? Will Labarbera actually be given a start?
Next up to start the 2nd half of the Wings season is a tough contest against one of the new Eastern Conference powerhouses the Florida Panthers.