Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Only" The Regular Season? Hey, It's Better Than Being 1-9

The Detroit Red Wings are in their 85th season in the National Hockey League. They have won countless league championships, divisional titles, conference titles, and some Stanley Cups to boot. But never have they started a season by winning nine of their first ten games.

Until now.

They went to 9-1 with a 6-2 thrashing of the poor Columbus Blue Jackets, a cute little team that got thumped by the Red Wings 6-0 on Saturday night. Both games were in Columbus.

I'm not sure what everyone expected out of our hockey team coming out of the gate, with a new coach and some supposedly key players lopped off the roster due to the NHL's new salary cap. And the captain, Steve Yzerman, has only played a game and a half this season. Whatever the predictions, I doubt they included this high-flying getaway.

Players like Draper have the special teams rocking

The Red Wings are kicking the league's ass right now, scoring goals by the bucketful and being stingy in the goals against department. Their special teams are par exemplar. The new coach, Mike Babcock, seems to know what he's doing, after all.

It's tempting to say, because it's the NHL, that it's "only" the regular season. But if you can win a bunch of games in October, go for it. It may help you in positioning for later in the season. Look, don't you still want Game 7 in your own building?

The Red Wings are playing with an urgency and a purpose that is usually reserved for post-trading deadline games and the playoffs. They appear to have decided that this is a new day in the NHL, a day in which they are no longer considered prohibitive favorites simply because their sweaters have a winged wheel on the front.

It's nice, actually, to see this kind of jackrabbit start by the Red Wings under Babcock. These are wins that will look awfully nice in the left hand column come March and April.

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