NHL season preview: Three big questions facing the Detroit Red Wings

Gregory Shamus

SB Nation is putting together a big NHL season preview and asked us to weigh in. Being that the Red Wings are among the most-important teams in the league and therefore, by extension, WIIM is one of the most-important blogs. We were magnanimous enough to answer those questions for our kind-hearted and gentle-souled overlords.

1. Does a solid two-way game and strong goaltending make up for an inexperienced group of defensemen?

By sheer numbers, yes. When 2/3rds of the players on the ice (including the single-most important position) is well-set with veteran experience, you've got a group that can cover for a lot of the growing pains that Detroit's young defensive corps might suffer. When you add in the forward depth which should give favorable matchups against the easier competition, the least-experienced guys should benefit from also being the most-sheltered.

The development of promising youngsters like Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl and rookie Danny DeKeyser should come along at a healthy pace while the more experienced Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson take the heavier, tougher minutes against top competition. Confidence is going to be key for the young blueliners' this season, and looking at who's playing both in front of and behind them should afford them plenty of that.

2. What do offseason additions Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss bring to the table?

In the obvious sense, Weiss and Alfredsson do pretty well to replace two of the roster losses the Red Wings suffered this summer. Weiss should bring a bit more physicality and north/south play than the departed Valtteri Filppula while Alfredsson takes over the top-six scoring winger/right-shooting power play specialist role left open by the loss of Damien Brunner.

From a production standpoint, both of those additions may turn out to be merely lateral moves (which isn't a bad thing), but in the measure of intangibles, the Red Wings replaced two players who wanted to prove they were worth more away from the Red Wings with two former team captains who each bring a much-needed Eastern Conference savvy to go along with the drive and experience to win.

3. How do the Wings adjust to the size disadvantage against new divisional foes, namely Boston, Toronto and Buffalo?

The Wings' answer to bigger teams carries over from their experience in the West dealing with teams like Anaheim, Calgary, and Dallas. It may be a cliche by now, but "you can't hit what you can't catch" remains true. While the Wings may not always move fast enough to outrun their competition, the puck certainly does. Smart, short passes bolstered by a system predicated on constantly moving like a 5-man unit should keep them out of trouble while they're holding the puck; constant back-pressure and intelligently outmanning their competition in key areas will aid in retrievals and transition when they're defending.

Specifically team-by-team, the Wings' skill should help them consistently deal with Buffalo. Patience, maturity and hard work should get them through games against teams like the Leafs and Bruins. I believe all three teams' reliance on enforcers won't help them much against a veteran Red Wings' team which imposes their will on goon teams without sinking to their style of play.

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