Are the Red Wings out of their window for success?

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Wings.jpgChicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 7, 2010
Live on NBC

The Detroit Red Wings have been so good, for so
long, it’s downright scary. They last failed to win a division title in
1999, and have appeared in two straight Stanley Cup finals, and have
only lost in the first round of the playoffs once since 2003. They’ve
found a way to continue to rebuild through free agency, but more
importantly through the draft as they’ve remained competitive for well
over decade.

This season the Red Wings are going through something they haven’t suffered in a very long time: a fight for a playoff spot in March. Detroit started off the season in a hole, as a poor start put them towards the bottom of the conference standings and the team has been struggling to get out it since then.

It’s been a tough road and one has to wonder: If the Red Wings are able to sneak into the playoffs this season will they be able to continue to dominate like they’ve done in the past in the postseason? Perhaps the age and yes, experience, is finally catching up to Detroit. It’s a situation that the team has not faced in a very long time.

The Red Wings players are not getting any younger.

The
average age of the Detroit Red Wings is 30.5, with the youngest player
on the active roster 23-year old Darren Helm. Every other player is
older than 25 with eleven players over the age of 30. The Red Wings have
built their current team through the draft, with gems such as Pavel
Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg coming in the 6th and 7th rounds. Has the
increasing age of the Red Wings contributed to their struggles this
season, as they fight to maintain positioning just for a playoff spot?

Is
it just a case of injuries?

The Red Wings have had a number
of devastating injuries to key players this season, contributing to a
poor start that has forced Detroit to try and crawl out of the basement
of the Western conference standings. Yet just as it seems as if they
were getting back on top and making a run, as in January, they stumble
and hit another bump in the road. Now that they are relatively healthy,
they sit in 8th place with a one point lead over Calgary and are just
four points ahead of 11th place Dallas. They may be getting stronger as
the season goes along, but how will this older — yet very experienced
— team fare in the playoffs against the younger and faster opponents.
Will their discipline and coaching carry them?

Have to rebuild
at some point.

Every successful team goes through ups and
downs from one season to the next; what made you successful one year
will not necessarily carry over to the next. Somehow, the Red Wings have
maintained a high level of competitiveness for nearly 14 years. Yet
there will come a point when they will stumble, and require a season or
two to rebuild and restock their team. The days of free-agent spending are over and the most successful teams are winning because of the players
they have drafted during the down years.

Is Detroit starting
to enter that cycle? The franchise’s drafts the past few seasons have not fared
all that well, although last year they were able to draft Landon
Ferrarro and standout Tomas Tartar. Are there any mid-round surprises on their way from the 2006,
2007 and 2008 drafts?

Are the Red Wings going to be forced to
restock? Most of the successful teams that are inching towards of top of the conference standings have done so due to drafts that provide a powerful nucleus from which to build around. Most times, these teams can do so because a few years of disappointment and mediocrity have given them high draft picks from which to work.

Detroit is approaching a turning point in the history of the franchise and what happens this spring and this summer will be a clear indication of the direction this team will take.

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The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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Players of the night:

Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

Highlights of the night: 

The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

Factoids of the Night:

King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

Suspensions of the Night: 

Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.

Scores:

Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

Rangers 3, Senators 0

Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

Ducks 3, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

“He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.