Red Wings injury woes shed light on bright future

By Brad Constant; Jan. 30, 2014

After sometime off and even a little time off the grid, the Hockey Ref is back just in time to get geared up for the rest of the season. So without further ado, let’s get right to it….

The Detroit Red Wings’ injury-prone season continues as the Olympic break approaches. In fact, it’s safe to say that the Red Wings’ season has been severely hampered by injuries.

Currently Detroit is without powerhouse veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Plus Johan Franzen has just been placed back on the injured reserve list due to more concussion symptoms while Stephen Weiss is recovering from a sports hernia surgery. At one point the Red Wings’ injury list also included Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson, Daniel Alfredsson, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericcson.

But there has been a bright spot to come out of Detroit’s injury woes thanks to the team’s young players who have revealed a promising future for the organization.

Players like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have stepped up their games. Truth be told, they look like they could be the most suitable replacements for Datsyuk and Zetterberg when the Euro Twins retire. Granted, there is no way to completely fill the skates of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. But Tatar and Nyquist have shown that they have a knack for scoring and making plays game in and game out. Here some proof with sick highlight numbers one and two belonging to Tatar, and number three belonging to Nyquist.

Other young players like the aforementioned Andersson, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco are all big bodies coming in at over six-feet-tall. Andersson looks like the better defensive forward while Sheahan and Jurco seem more offensively inclined. Sheahan has a cannon of a wrist shot and Jurco has hands that could put him on highlight reel after highlight reel.

On the back end there are players like Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Danny Dekeyser. Smith still has a problem with turnovers, but there is promise in his game. Lashoff looks like he’ll make a solid number five or six defenseman. But Dekeyser looks the most promising off all. The former Western Michigan University Bronco has all the makings of a top defenseman in the National Hockey League; size, vision and skill. We can’t wait to see how he turns out in a couple of seasons as he looks the most likely to fill the void left by Nicklas Lidstrom – well, he looks like he can fill a good portion of the void at least.

Lastly, Petr Mrazek has been called upon over the last couple of seasons to step in and man the net. During those appearances he has shown tons of growth, and even recorded his first NHL shutout early this season. The Red Wings could be in a very good position with goaltenders if he continues to grow and mature.

What does all this mean? Simple, the Red Wings’ future looks good, and young. It’s been awhile since Detroit has not been comprised of a majority of players over 30-years-old, and with the salary cap the team cannot splash into free agency to add star power like it has in the past. So the Red Wings have been forced to groom their young talents faster than usual. But it seems to be paying off, and we could see the Red Wings return to the position of league powerhouse again if the youth movement continues on its upward trajectory.

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Canada, Russia favored to win 2014 Winter Olympic gold

The Canadians will look to defend their gold medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Canadians will look to defend their gold medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

By Brad Constant, Nov. 22, 2013

Guess what, Canada is a favorite to win the gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Who knew that such a talented team could have 11/5 odds of taking gold? We did, and we’re sure much of the world did too. (The latest odds come from Bovada.lv)

The Canadian team is stacked. The roster will definitely have proven goal scorers and playmakers like Rick Nash, Jonathan Toews, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos, if he is healthy in time. There will also be a guy named Sydney Crosby on the team. We’ve heard he’s pretty slick on the ice and has a knack for being the best guy out there – don’t tell that to Alexander Ovechkin (more on him later). Throw in Mike Babcock as the head coach – an angry and motivated head coach because his Detroit Red Wings are struggling – and you’ll have a team ready to claim another gold medal.

But hold on. The Russians have the same odds as the Canadians, and here is why. At the forward positions they have the aforementioned Ovechkin, a flashy, hard-hitting goal scorer. They also have Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Evgeni Malkin. These are guys that can put the puck in the net whenever they want. We are salivating at the prospect of a line with Oveckin and either Kovalchuk or Malkin on the wings and Datsyuk at center. That is the type of line that will make any defense quiver.

Speaking of defense, the Russian are pretty good on the backend too with Slava Voynov and the veteran Sergei Gonchar anchoring the defensive corps. In goal we could see Sergei Bobrovsky, Evgeni Nabokov, or Seymon Varlamov, if he isn’t in a Colorado jail.

When it comes down to it, both the Russians and Canadians are arguably the best national teams in the world. So it’s safe to say they could be playing for the gold medal. But we aren’t going to rule out some of the European teams like Sweden and Finland, or our favorites, the United States of America.