The sun continues to rise daily and thus the Red Wings have made the playoffs once again. An uninterrupted generation of regular season success lives on and now we will be treated to the President's Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the first round. Commence butt-holding.
It was a turbulent six months, to say the least. I won't be saying the least though, so here are some bullets to put a bow on the 2013-14 regular season.
- THE YEAR OF NYQUIST: Did Gustav Nyquist single-handedly save the Red Wings? No, but he'll be the first name you think of when you look back on 2014. From mid-January on he has been engulfed in flames and leaving defenders in a crispy wake. We don't see youngsters come around these parts too often and carry a team like Nyquist has done, and that new toy feeling has been a different kind of exciting for all of us. Had he started the year like this and played in more games he might have been able to angle his way into the Hart conversation, but I'll gladly settle for a 28-20-48 line in 57 games and hand him Team MVP trophy, which is a bronzed Robert Lang making the :/ face.
- THE YEAR OF THE GROIN: Nobody's groins were safe this year outside of Luke Glendening, who had his massaged so vigorously by Babcock and co. that he has managed to stay in the lineup despite statistical evidence that may have suggested other alternatives. But I digress. During the better part of the first five months, everything short of the plague hit the Red Wings and it didn't seem realistic that they'd be able to soldier through it. And yet they did, and now guys are getting healthy and rounding into shape at a fairly important time. But during that bad stretch, I didn't want to hear the word "groin" ever again. I didn't even like knowing that I had perfectly uninjured groins while Red Wings in need were tormented by Piet Van Zant's witch doctor tactics of onion necklaces and hair doll séances.
- THE YEAR OF OUT WITH THE OLD A LITTLE LATER THAN WE WOULD HAVE LIKED, IN WITH THE NEW: We were all a bit surprised when Dan Cleary came back and basically messed a whole bunch of stuff up. His contract, as well as the continued presence of some of the old guard, kept Nyquist in Grand Rapids and Tomas Tatar in the pressbox. Injuries (and some general common sense) helped rectify these mistakes and the likes of Danny DeKeyser, Tomas Jurco, and Riley Sheahan injected some much-needed new blood into our aging core. God I hate needles.
- THE YEAR A CIVIL WAR VETERAN AND A DEFENSEMAN LED THE WINGS IN POINTS: Daniel Alfredsson was better than I thought he'd be. Niklas Kronwall has become better than I thought he'd be. Together, they led the Wings in scoring with 49 points apiece. They picked up the slack as best the could with the absence of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk for large chunks of the season. Kronwall has been the subject of effusive praise from his fellow blueliners and is their unquestioned leader, while Alfredsson led an army of bayonet-wielding freedom crusaders into battle at Fort Sumpter.
- THE YEAR OF #5 GOING TO THE RAFTERS: nope, i can't.
- THE YEAR OF STEPHEN WEISS COSTING THE RED WINGS MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS PER POINT SCORED: Weiss racked up 4 points in 26 games before he was shut down. Valtteri Filppula put up 58 points in 75 games in his first year for the Lightning. Let's move on.
- THE YEAR OF A WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE STARTING TO LOSE FAITH IN AN ORGANIZATION THAT JUST MADE THE PLAYOFFS WHILE THEIR TWO BEST PLAYERS AND A BUNCH OF OTHER GUYS MISSED HUNDREDS OF GAMES DUE TO INJURY: Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck Ittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt.
As if it were in doubt, Mike Babcock proved that he's the best coach in the game. That's a good thing to have on our side. Ken Holland did some goofy stuff, but if you overlook the young talent he has helped put together to think he's done more harm than good lately .... eeeesh. Look at the big picture. A new core of players is making a footprint here and the last few weeks have been so good that I'm feeling decent about our chances against Boston. That's crazy considering where we were not that long ago. Man am I excited for this. Go Wings.