[Ed note: bumped to front page for discussion]
Can we all just remind ourselves after the impressive win last night that Ken Holland knows what he's doing? Really, take a minute and contemplate it....yes, Ken Holland knows more about running a major sports franchise than I know about the butt groove on my couch during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Points after the jump....
Ok, so now that we all can recognize the fact that Ken Holland is a genius, let's evaluate why he is.
First off, while I know many of you wrote off last night as being impossible to win with 7 starters out of the lineup, I on the other hand was excited to see the prospects come and play. We know their talented. We know they're itching to play at the next level. We know that they want to contribute. We know they hate being stuck in GR. But that's not the Red Wings way of running the franchise. For years now, we've kept our prospects down in GR to give them as much playing time as possible. It showed last night. There's not a team in the league that could have SEVEN starters out, call on prospects to fill in, and fight hard enough to win the game. That's only because they've been playing, playing, playing in Grand Rapids.
Secondly, I was thoroughly impressed with the win last night. Yes, it was our stars that led the way with a super star netting two and 2 secondary stars netting one a piece. That's exactly as it should be. Hank was amazing. He's proving that he can Captain this team, even if he's not the first line C like Datsyuk is. He's proven (just like Malkin has this year) that he can take this team on his shoulders and win games for us. He's proven that he is a bonafide star in this league and deserves as much credit as Dastyuk, Ovechkin, and Malkin (if not more than some).
Third, while the Zetterberg/Filppula pairing was impressive (and I'm not quite sure why Hudler has disappeared, maybe because he's facing top defensive units while Pasha is out), I was equally as impressed with the youngsters. Andersson and Mursak skated minimal minutes (though we know what Mursak is capable of from previous games), watching Gustav with Helm and Franzen was quite enjoyable at the end (even though Miller was on this line most of the night). Franzen hustled more last night on that shift in order to keep up with them and he worked hard at controlling the puck in the LA zone. All three crashed the net consistently and worked together as a unit rather than a group of individuals. This is why it's so vital that our prospects get playing time down in Grand Rapids. They need that time to work on working as a line, teaming together, understanding shooting lanes and driving lanes. Learning to pass off the boards into the slot. Trying to learn that at the NHL level is going to create draft busts and washouts. But by doing things the Red Wings way, they can play at 4/5ths the speed of the NHL and develop skills that you can't develop at the full speed of the NHL.
Lastly, I know that some people were upset at the lack of shots on goal, but I'm not at all. Taking into consideration that the only line(s) that were "normal" were the Zetterberg line and Kronwall-Stuart on defence, I wouldn't expect the other lines to mesh perfectly. Shots come from lines playing together and knowing how to read each other, what each other likes, and how each other works. Hank and Val knew that they were going to be heavily relied upon to score last night and they did just that. The other lines were learning how to play together as a unit. Which in looking at the stats, the fact that no one had a minus, that means that they did their job defensively (another lesson learned the Red Wings Way by playing in Grand Rapids) and worried about offense after their defensive jobs were done. You can't ask for anything more for them at this point.
Bottom line: Any other team in the league...any other team...if they're missing 7 starters including 1 allstar, 2 future hall of famers, 2 solid role players, 1 top 4 defenceman (for any other team in the league Ericsson would be), and a 7th defenceman...they wouldn't stand a chance. LA should have put up 5 or 6. Philly, Boston, New York, Vancouver...they all would drop 10 on a team like that. But Detroit isn't "any other team" because they don't do things like every other team. They do things the Red Wings Way because Ken Holland has proven it works.