Here we go into '07-'08! Another great season of NHL Hockey is about to start, and the Wings are hosting the defending Stanley Cup Champs at the Joe tomorrow. What's it going to take to win? Well, the usual stuff, as usual, and some new stuff. Franzen has got to take on the role of Power Forward, Samuellson has got to get a lot more consistent, and the youngsters; Fillpula, Hudler, and Kopecky have got to parlay their playoff experience from last season into something meaningful.
I don't think there's any doubt that Rafalski is going to fit in on the blueline, or any real concern about disruption on the back end. I think Lidstrom-Rafalski makes a more imposing tandem, especially on the power play than Lidstrom-Schnieder. Schnieds will miss his debut return to the Joe with the Ducks as he's on IR, but it will still be a contest with Pronger around.
Watch for the Mule crashing the net in his new and improved role, and keep a close eye on Dallas Drake and Dan Cleary as they threaten to score from their checking roles. Cleary had a breakout year and Drake is back with the team he started his career with.
There's plenty of leadership in this locker room, plenty of flexibility and scoring threats up front, and a back line that's among the most solid in the league. With Dom having a year of healthy hockey under his belt, he'll be in even better condition this season and ready to play. The biggest challenge is to Osgood to stay sharp and focused in his backup role.