February 1, 2013

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3 Keys for Detroit Red Wings to Make Playoffs

By: Tyler Vespa

For the first time in a while, the Detroit Red Wings have some significant questions to answer. With the retirement of 7- time Norris Trophy winner and former captain Nicklas Lidstrom, and the trade of Brad Stuart, the biggest void is definitely on defense. The screens and deflections of Tomas Holmstrom will also be missed. The other major problem is that the Wings have a lot of streaky players on their roster, and with a shortened season that can’t happen. The impact of those 3 players on the Wings’ special teams is something that can’t be replaced over night.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to make the postseason, but it’s far from a long shot. Here are 3 keys for the Wings that will help them overcome all of these obstacles:

  1. Depth on the offensive side of the puck: With young guns like Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist, and Jan Mursak, the Wings youth movement has begun. Brunner is already playing on the Wings’ top line. Nyquist and Mursak have been solid in relief of injuries. Both have been called up numerous times to fill holes. Not to mention the fact that the Wings are loaded with talent at the forward position in the minors with names like Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson, who have yet see major ice time with the Wings.
  2. Darren Helm and Johan Franzen for Special Teams: Helm’s speed is a killer. The Wings need that on both ends of the ice. Johan Franzen needs to keep scoring goals; He had 27 and 28 the past two seasons. He can’t be streaky this season.
  3. Backup Goaltending: Jimmy Howard can’t play the remaining 42 games and still have some left in the tank for the postseason. We need “The Monster” Jonas Gustavsson to be solid in relief.

Bottom line, the Wings will make the playoffs again if these 3 things happen. By committee, the Wings have a great offense with some young, fresh legs. It’s extremely important we use them to help Datsyuk, Zetterberg and veteran Todd Bertuzzi. With the amount of parity in the NHL today, we can’t win without a penalty kill and a power play. Jimmy Howard needs help. Our defense is very fragile, and not nearly as talented as past seasons. If Gustavsson fails, Joey MacDonald or Thomas McCollum must be ready.

September 13, 2012

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NHL Lockout: 5 Reasons we need to have hockey

By: Tyler Vespa

With the current CBA agreement set to expire on September 15th, the NHLPA and the owners are still not close to coming to an agreement. The NHLPA made the first proposal to the owners almost a month ago, and since then the negotiating between the two sides has been at a standstill.

The Kings became the first #8 seed to win the Stanley Cup last season.

The last time there was an NHL lockout was in the 2004-2005 season. Since then, we’ve had hockey each season. That lockout lasted 10 months and 6 days, and the main issue was the fact that the league was not a level playing field, as teams with the worst records could not get the top picks in the next draft to build the team. The result was a new lottery system where each team had an equal chance to land the first pick.

A lot of the financial issues for 2012 seem to be centered on the fact that wealthy franchises still have the upper hand. The league wants to continue to help the troubled franchises, which will automatically require the league’s wealthiest franchises to give up more money.

In the midst of all these issues, I hope the NHLPA and the team owners can come to a common ground. Personally, I have been a Detroit Red Wings fan my whole life, and can’t imagine a fall and winter without Joe Louis Arena, Mickey Redmond, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Here are 5 reasons we need hockey in 2012-2013:

  1. There are horrible teams in every league, MLB, NFL, etc.
  2. The Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup (8 seed)
  3. The other team in the Stanley Cup Final was the New Jersey Devils, a 6 seed
  4. There can still be NHL hockey with 5 less teams in the league
  5. Young teams are on the rise (Edmonton, Colorado, Minnesota)

Now, players might still get paid too much, but that also happens in every league. However, players should be more open to not being guaranteed all the money from each contract, this will also make it easier for players themselves to request a trade.