It is roughly the quarter pole of the 2011-2012 NHL season, and thus far it has been jam-packed with stories.
The Red Wings in particular have already faced enough drama to pack into a full length season. A hot start. A dismal six game stretch. Uninspired play. Beautiful synergy. A living legend who never seems to lose his talent, and a superstar who has yet again found his way.
And so, we now seemingly have an answer to the question Mike Babcock asked nearly three weeks ago: the Red Wings are a dangerous team that is absolutely able to contend with the best of them. And they're only just getting started
Before I continue, I want to apologize for my doom-and-gloom talk throughout that six game stretch. You see, I was of the opinion that the Red Wings, as presently constructed, were no longer good enough to keep pace with the Chicagos and the San Joses and the Bostons of the NHL. It was largely born from the panic that was sweeping Red Wings Nation, but at the same time, it was an opinion that looked to, unfortunately, be the correct one.
Now those Dark Ages are in the rear-view mirror, and the team is playing like the one we expect. In fact, they are playing better than I think many of us expected. They are currently fourth in the West, and second in the Central, but have thus far played three less games than Chicago and two less games than Conference-leading Minnesota, and yet they trail both by a measly two points. A win tonight, and they assume first place in the Conference, and second overall in the league.
The on-ice product has been outstanding, and while I have no doubt this team can contend as currently constructed (funny how quickly my opinion can swing like that), I have a proposition.
Why not really go for it this year?
What do I mean when I say that? Consider this:
One of the biggest storylines heading into the season was the fact that this may or may not be Lidstrom's last year. Much of the talk has been around the fact that this team needs to "win one for the thumb" for Lidstrom, and that it's Cup or Bust should this be his final go.
So, while the Red Wings clearly are in domination form, and could very easily go far into the playoffs, my proposition is the following:
Make a trade to push this team over the top. That clearly sets them apart from the rest. A prospects plus draft picks for a proven, high scoring commodity at this year's deadline, and really make a run at it.
The team has over $7 million in cap space, and a debatable need for an elite scoring threat. That isn't to say the Red Wings can't score, because clearly they can as they sit fourth in the West in goals for, but it is to say that they can score more.
So, should this team continue to get it done for the remainder of the season, and teams such as Calgary and Columbus and Tampa Bay and New Jersey continue to plod along and toil at the bottom of the league, please ken Holland, I implore you, to make a trade for an Iginla, or a Nash or a St. Louis or a Parise, and really make an absolute boom-or-bust run for Lidtrom's sake.
Only time will tell if this team can continue to dominate. But as it stands right now, they're in prime position to put a real stranglehold on their place at the top.
All that remains is just one trade, and this team could take its place at the top of the NHL mountain.