The same is true of Detroit, where benefitting from a division softer than Kyle Wellwood's midsection is going to inflate point totals and expectations above where the should be, and even that might not be enough to overcome creaky players that decidedly looked their age down the stretch and into the postseason.I almost forgot how soft the Central division was. So soft that two of the past three Stanley Cup champions come from it, and even in the year the Cup didn't come from the Central, the Wings were still in the finals. We shouldn't forget that last season three of the five teams made the playoffs, and in 2008-09 Nashville was three points away from putting all five teams from the Central in the postseason.
Soft? I'll give you Columbus, obviously, but Detroit, Chicago, and Nashville all should reach the 100 point plateau again this year and it's assumed that St. Louis will be better this year.
Soft is not the word I'd use to describe the Central division. (I won't even get into the Kyle Wellwood joke. Clever. Topical.)
That's not even the beginning. The Wings' point total won't be inflated by their division -- if you want inflated point totals, look at the Southeast. I'll argue forever that expectations for the Red Wings this year are right where they should be.
This is a team that despite losing 307 man-games due to injury (according to this list by The Hockey News) still finished fifth in the West with 102 points (more than Pittsburgh) last seaon.
Their "creaky players" are not the reason we bowed out to the Sharks in the playoffs as I firmly believe that any team that goes as deep into the playoffs as the Wings had in the past couple of seasons would eventually have that many games played catch up to them. That's no excuse, they obviously didn't play as well as they should have, but playing shorthanded for entire games wasn't helpful either. (This wouldn't be a post about the Red Wings without a jab at the NHL.)
The Wings looked their age down the stretch? They finished the season on a 16-3-2 run. This isn't that hard: when it was the Detroit Red Wings out on the ice and not the Detroit Griffins, this team was very good.
That's why expectations should be as high as they are. I think we've only gotten better this offseason, as all of our pieces are back and then some with the additions of Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei to go along with the return of Jiri Hudler.
It's your opinion if you think the Wings aren't the best team in the West, but the reasoning behind that opinion is poor at best.