Behind Detroit's dual decade dynasty

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There are plenty of ways to build a great sports dynasty. Some teams simply buy the best talent with their impossibly deep pockets; others luck out by losing their way to a host of No. 1 draft picks or absurdly one-sided trades. But few teams have done it just about every way imaginable like the Detroit Red Wings, a franchise that has dominated hockey for close to 20 years now.

Leagues are designed to strengthen the weak and paralyze those who seem too powerful, but the Red Wings have been so far ahead of the curve that it didn’t matter. Smart teams tend to unearth gems and no hockey club has done more with sixth round draft picks (two nobodies like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk) than Detroit.

Their almost unfair dominance really began in the ’90s when the Red Wings made major investments in European scouting. The team took a chance on Sergei Fedorov when a Russian even being able to play in the U.S. was far from a sure thing and went to comical (but necessary) lengths to keep players such as Nicklas Lidstrom a secret, as Michael Farber of SI wrote.

” … [Detroit scout Neil] Smith was afraid that Meehan would raise Lidstrom’s profile by talking him up to G.M.’s or parading him around the Twin Cities during draft week. Smith even stopped mentioning Lidstrom to other Wings staffers for fear someone might drop the name in conversation. “There was a blackout,” Holland says. “Neil told me about Lidstrom when he got back from Europe that January-we were best friends at the time-but he saw no need for anybody else in the organization to [scout him].”

The Red Wings would need to be great at finding gems, because they’ve never had the chance to stockpile quality draft picks. In fact, because of aggressive trading and a perennially strong finish, the Red Wings only had two first round draft picks from 1997-2004 (Jiri Fischer in ’98 and Niklas Kronwall in ’00). Then again, when you win 13 division titles, earn 6 Presidents’ Trophies, make it to 6 Stanley Cup finals and end up with 4 Cups since 1990, you’re probably not going to get good draft picks.

Bad picks couldn’t stop Detroit. The salary cap only highlighted their savvy. So, yes, maybe Detroit isn’t as dominant this season but I wouldn’t count them out just yet.

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    Talk about a Wild comeback for Minnesota

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    The Minnesota Wild took back sole possession of the lead in the Central Division, thanks to a thrilling comeback win over the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

    Minnesota trailed 3-1 early in the second period. Jason Zucker closed the deficit in the middle period, before they took the lead for good thanks to a frenzy of three goals from Erik Haula, Ryan Suter and Zucker in 1:59 late in regulation for a 5-3 victory.

    “When we came in in between the second and third, knowing we were only down a goal, and knowing our history, we didn’t think we were out of it,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, per the Pioneer Press.

    And so the Wild remain one of the hottest teams in the league, leading Chicago by two points.

    While it’s a comeback for them, the Ducks don’t quite see it the same way.

    “It’s not what they did, to be honest. We self-imploded. Gave up too many opportunities, left our goalie out to dry,” said Cam Fowler.

    Additional bad news for the Ducks, however, was that goalie John Gibson left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury, and didn’t return.

     

    Bust a move: Capitals win includes unlikely OT hero and dad’s dancing in Dallas

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    The usual suspects contributed for the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Down a pair of goals entering the third period, Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie helped ignite the comeback on the power play.

    But then an unlikely hero emerged.

    Jay Beagle scored his 10th goal of the season and the overtime winner to give Washington a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. That aforementioned goal total matches his previous career high from two seasons ago.

    He initially accomplished the feat over the course of 62 games. This time, he hits 10 goals in 46 games played.

    Officials needed to review the play, although replays quickly showed the puck over the line from the Beagle shot in the slot.

    The comeback win led to a memorable post-game celebration.

    Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home.

    The Capitals maintain their lead in the Metropolitan Division ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    This game versus the Stars included some feisty moments, particularly in the first period when tempers boiled over. Tom Wilson and Brett Ritchie dropped the gloves for a lengthy fight. Three seconds later, Daniel Winnik fought Antoine Roussel.

    Ducks goalie Gibson leaves game versus Wild with upper-body injury

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Goaltender John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks in action during the preseason NHL game against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Anaheim goaltender John Gibson has left Saturday’s game against Minnesota with an upper-body injury.

    A short-angle shot from Mikko Koivu appeared to hit Gibson in the upper chest with 5:39 to play in the first period. The goaltender immediately went down on one knee and was quickly attended to by a trainer. Gibson gingerly skated to the bench and went straight to the locker room.

    Anaheim announced that Gibson is doubtful to return.

    Gibson is 7-1-1 with two shutouts in his past nine starts. He was replaced by Jonathan Bernier.

    Gibson stopped four of five shots he faced while making his fourth straight start.

    Playoff hopes take a jolt: Coyotes crush Bishop and the Bolts

    NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends net against the New York Islanders during the second period at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Of the surprises in the NHL so far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning has to be right up there on the list.

    In 2015, they went to the Stanley Cup Final. The future had looked bright, but this signified the Bolts’ arrival into the top tier of teams in the league. Last season, they made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and lost to the eventual champions from Pittsburgh. That was a playoff run that did not include Steven Stamkos until the deciding game of the East final.

    This year? The Bolts are currently not in a playoff position. They’ve had issues defensively. They’ve had issues on offense. They’ve had issues with goaltending. They’ve dealt with injuries or illness to key players like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, and other important members of their lineup.

    Looking to gain ground in the playoff chase, the Bolts had what looked to be the perfect opponent to mend their troubles — at least for one game. On Saturday, Tampa Bay faced the Arizona Coyotes, losers of four in a row and sitting above only Colorado in the Western Conference standings.

    The perfect remedy, right?

    Wrong. So wrong.

    The Bolts lost 5-3, mostly because of a disastrous opening two periods. Ben Bishop started and was pulled after 40 minutes, allowing five goals on 17 shots.

    Down a goal after the first period, things went south for the Bolts in the middle period. The Coyotes — one of only two teams in the entire league still stuck under 100 goals-for entering this game — beat Bishop for three goals on just nine shots in the second.

    The Bolts are dead last in the Atlantic Division, five points back of third-place Boston. They are four points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot, but there are seven teams ahead of Tampa Bay in that race.

    There is still lots of time left in the season. But the Bolts had stressed the importance and urgency needed on this current six-game road trip, and they haven’t delivered.

    A loss to the Coyotes would certainly seem like rock bottom.