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www.the-rink.com • 55 Years Old • Male
(Hold your salvos, let me explain first, not trying to pick any fights here)

I started this discussion on Al Cimaglia's blog a couple of days ago, and received a few insults from a guy named "Steve" over it. And yes, a few others on the blog, chimed in that I was being overly optimistic. "Steve" challenged me to blog this subject. So I am. And I can't wait to start reading and commenting on the World according to "Steve from Chicago."

Well, before I get into a player by player breakdown, let me also add the caveats that "Steve" apparently couldn't read. Or couldn't wrap his mind around.

I believe the Wings have the best defense, and the best defenseman in hockey: Nik Lidstrom.

As much as fans of other clubs, and many truly over-exuberant Hawk fans go on and on about our young defense, I have felt (and stated, Steve) all season that they are a work in progress and lack a needed veteran top-four defenseman. Their break-outs have gotten better, but they used to stink. And the point platy on the power play has been pretty bad.

I also think the Wings goaltending tandem is (a fair amount) better than the Hawks.

Finally, I've watched the Wings play a lot over the years, having lived in the Detroit area from 1992 to 2006. They don't have Shanahan, Hull, Robitaille, Lang, Fedorov, Whitney, etc. anymore.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg are great creative offensive players, but neither of them is winning the Selke anytime soon. I believe Pat Kane can and will be the equal of either of them. And, yes, I believe Jonathan Toews is a better player, yes today, because of his leadership, his impact on a game and his play in all three zones.

No, the Wings don't have Yzerman anymore either. In fact, the Hawks do. And Wings' fans know the value of that kind of player better than anyone.

After that, I think it's highly debatable whether Lang, Havlat, Sharp, Ruutu, Bourque, Byfuglien and Williams aren't equal to (or even better than) Draper, Maltby, Franzen, Filippula, Holmstrom, Kopecky, Samuelsson, etc.

It's certainly worth debating.

Many of you might disagree with me on Toews. So be it. I'm very comfortable in that belief.

Finally, I have the utmost respect for the Wings organization on and off the ice. But a dare's a dare, and I never back down from a challenge.

Good enough, Steve-o?

Filed Under:   Blackhawks   Red Wings  
February 18, 2008 3:44 PM ET | Delete
Don't worry; I'm not looking for a fight any more than you are.I do have one point of contention: your analysis of Datsyuk and Zetterberg's defensive qualities. I implied from the comment "neither is winning the Selke anytime soon" you think they're both bad defensively; this is just flat wrong. The two kill penalties together very effectively, both are positionally sound, both fight for the puck all over the ice. Zetts is one of the best back-checkers I've seen (and I've seen Draper for a good long time) and Datsyuk is a takeaway machine; I believe he will, in fact, win the Selke someday, perhaps soon.However, as to your overall argument, I don't think Detroit's roster, on paper, is that much better than the typical NHL team. Most people predicted the Red Wings would do well this year by feasting on a "weak division" (which, of course, hasn't happened). Barry Melrose called Detroit a "second-tier team" in his Western Conference preview. At the end of the day, I don't think it's necessarily the skill of the individual players that makes the Red Wings so consistently good (although it certainly is a factor), but how they all fit together, and a combination of stuff you can't see on paper: good coaching, good management, good mix of veteran leadership and youth, hard work. Players know their roles and complement each other. Having Nicklas Lidstrom at the helm of one of the NHL's most mobile, skilled, puck-moving defenses doesn't hurt, though.
February 18, 2008 3:47 PM ET | Delete
I disagree but I like how you framed it here. I also really appreciate the give and take back and forth debate. If I got a little personal I really should apologize because at the end of the day it's only are opinions and everyone's opinions are valid. For my last response on Al's blog I went overboard so let me do this. I'm going to the game on the 5th against Anaheim and I would like to offer to buy you a beer, maitai or scotch if you are at the game. Let me know and we will figure out a place to meet between periods. Keep up the bogging you're opinionated and thought provoking which is just what this forum should be. Thanks Steve
February 18, 2008 4:05 PM ET | Delete
Steve, we're good. This was kinda funny. Read my response over at Al's Place. Sven, they wouldn't be playing big minutes for Babcock if they weren't at least OK defensively (responsible). That said, neither is terribly physical, though they do try. Hey, so does Kane. Gotta admit, that Toews does remind one of Stevie Y,eh?
February 18, 2008 5:58 PM ET | Delete
I disagree, both Datysuk AND Zetterberg are contenders to win a Selke.
February 18, 2008 6:03 PM ET | Delete
Datsyuk and Zetter are better (nice rhyme hey) than Kane and Toews today and maybe forever. Only time will tell. Dats and Zetter are the most potent tandem in hockey today. Don't kid yourself. Kane and Toews have a long way to go until they reach the status of Dats and Zetter. Unbelievable analysis.
February 18, 2008 9:15 PM ET | Delete
I haven't had time to read it really closely, but the recent blogs by James Mirtle are pretty interesting, John: http://mirtle.blogspot.com/ (scroll down to Feb 15th's entry, the bit on defensive forwards). I think Mirtle's one of the best hockey bloggers in the business, and I place a lot of stock in his opinions. It's interesting to see the names he lists, backed by significant data.
February 18, 2008 9:51 PM ET | Delete
I love Jonathon Toews. He's a stud and is going to be a superstar sooner than later. His impact on the Hawks since he came back from injury speaks for itself. However, he is not even close to being in the same level as Zetterberg or Datsyuk yet. Yeah, the Hawks have a pretty nice looking squad, and its always easier to be confident after a consecutive win streak. But they're not in the same league, not even close. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to put their top 9 in the top 15 of the league. But yeah, they're going to be an exciting team to watch... next year.
February 18, 2008 9:58 PM ET | Delete
I agree they don't match Detroit's top 9, but not in the top 15 of the league? That's just foolish.
February 18, 2008 10:48 PM ET | Delete
I am inclined to think our second 7 could certainly have an edge on their second 7. However, as a group today.... Zetterberg and Datsuyk are just much better than Toews and Kane. Kane may have something to say about that down the road, but not today. He hasn't even reached puberty yet. He doesn't play defense, glides a ton, and his speed doesn't come anywhere close to either Wing. All of that being said, he has as good of hands and vision as anyone in the NHL. I just think the gap between these 2, Wings 2- is much greater than that of the possible Hawk edge at the second 7 which makes a big difference. And I also disagree on your goaltending grading. Good defense helps goaltending big time.. and if you watch when our defense doesn't turn it over and makes smart decisions-- our goalies seem to perform. I think your analogy of good D applies to productivity with goalies more than forwards.
February 18, 2008 11:44 PM ET | Delete
Zetterberg and Datsuyk are machines...wow. I think they could both easily compete for the Art Ross AND the Selke in any given season.
February 19, 2008 8:13 AM ET | Delete
And I'll still take Toews over either of them. Even if they are his equal defensively, he's more physical than either of them will ever dream of being. This guy scores goals one on four. Illini, offense starts in your own zone. Our offense is better lately becvause our defense has been SO much better lately. Of course it helps the goalies, too. BY THE WAY, KEN DANIELS AND MICKEY REDMOND BOTH HAVE SAID TOEWS AND KANE ARE IN THE SAME CLASS AS DATS AND ZETT.
February 19, 2008 8:20 AM ET | Delete
Icemud, I read the blog. I used to enjoy Mirtle when I lived in TO, BTW. Did you read his analysis? He points out that those stats are skewed by the fact Detroit is having a great year and those guys don't play much time on the PK compared to other guys. I will admit I've underestimated their defense. Also, Illini, you are WRONG about Kane's speed. He likes to slow the game down like a lot of great players do, but his acceleration and second gear are actually pretty elite. THANKS EVERYONE FOR CHIMING IN ON THIS. IT'S BEEN FUN.
February 19, 2008 8:32 AM ET | Delete
To DucksFan07 and mslepp, I think you both need to see more of Toews, and I'll leave that right there. And while the Wings first line might be better than ours, I think as you go deeper, into the second and third lines, we start to have an advantage. Williams played 2nd line RW for the Wings last season. The Wings have no one like Havlat on their second or third line. Sorry, this guy is an elite player who's just now rounding back into form after an injury. They have no one like Byfuglien. Yes, Buff can learn a lot from Holmstrom about parking in front of the net. But Holmstrom does not have anything close to his hands and Buff changes games with his physical play. DucksFan, I KNOW Pronger felt a couple of hits from Buff, because they literally rattled the UC. Everybody thinks he's just a big kid with a big shot because they haven't seen him play a lot. He has great hands and offensive instincts. You all will know soon enough because he's at W full time now.
February 19, 2008 8:35 AM ET | Delete
Let me echo the sentiments of those who agree that Datsyuk and Zetty are both not only good defensively but Selke contenders. Toews was the highest rated prospect on hockeysfuture.com, so I think that he could very well be a franchise player someday. So this is not to take away from him or Kane in any way. Both of those guys are great players, and combined with Skille and all the Hawks young defensemen, they are going to be a damn good team, and soon.
February 19, 2008 8:38 AM ET | Delete
Barry, for what it's worth, I am not a big fan of Skille's. Byfuglien is going to be a better RW. Wait, he already is by a fair margin.
February 19, 2008 10:49 AM ET | Delete
I agree, I always find the 25th place team is better than the 1st place team... Oh boy!
February 19, 2008 6:02 PM ET | Delete
Then Daniels and Redmond are as insane as you. They may be in the same class, but Kane and Toews sit about 4 rows behind the Dats and Zetter row whch is front and center.
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