It seems as though every other Wings blogger on the internet has touched on Game Five, so I'm going to go ahead and skate around that one and barrel right on through to the "what ifs" portion of our season. You know, that part we all thought wouldn't start until mid-June because we'd be back for the Cup for a third year in a row.
I was reading this article over at The Bleacher Report that poses ten questions facing the Wings this summer. I thought I might answer these with my own thoughts.
10. Is Jiri Hudler going to be a factor?
All of my Wings friends are completely split on the prospect of Huddles coming back; half are just as happy as he is after he scores a goal, the other half have the reaction of, "Oh, you again? Ehh..." Like Matt Hutter writes, Huddles' breakout season was projected for this past season, but he went for the money and left us. That fact has left a sour taste in a lot of Wings fans' mouths.
But look at it this way: he was a clutch in the shootouts. Look at how many shootouts we lost this season and think about how many points we could have gained had he stayed on the team this year, not to mention the amount of goals we wouldn't have lost in the off-season. He'll be a factor, but it may take him a while to re-warm up to us.
9. Is Kirk Maltby's time in Detroit over?
In my honest opinion, yes. I really hate to see Malts not be in the lineup again, but we have young players that could use his spot on the roster more than he could. It's not like the Wings to dump their veterans, but I don't see another way. Abdelkader is a good replacement toughness-wise for Malts and Patrick Eaves is a good replacement for the clutch goals and penalty-killing. Plus, Abbie and Eaves are both a lot younger and have years ahead of them.
8. Is Steve Yzerman on his way out?
I say not this year. Not yet. I say he leaves when Lidstrom does, but that's just me. I hate to see Stevie leave, but it's going to happen. And don't do the "Holland or Yzerman as GM?" question because I'll pick Holland. I know what Holland's capable of and what he's put together.
7. Will Todd Bertuzzi be resigned?
At the start of the season, I said no. In the middle of the season when he had a bunch of game-winning goals, I said yes. At the end of the season, I was indifferent. At the start of the playoffs, I said no. This is the same guy whose play in the first game in Sweden prompted my brother to exclaim, "Todd Bertuzzi is going to have seven points this season!"
I didn't like Bert when he was here before and I wasn't very welcoming when he came here in the offseason [I vaguely remember calling my brother at work and yelling about it when I saw the headline on TSN.ca...]. But my honest answer is yes. We will resign Bert. As streaky of a player as he is, he does play solid hockey. He does have his good moments. And his mere presence, his large body, his tough demeanor is something we need on this team.
6. Was 2009-10 the start of perennial battles to make the playoffs?
I say no. Look at the fluky injuries we had the entire season. And look at what we did when we had all of our players back and healthy. Hell, if there had been ten more games to go in the season, we could have conceivably caught up to Chicago. And while Babcock will say this wasn't the case, I believe the Olympics did distract him a bit from the Wings. Look at how well we did after the Olympics [plus the injured players being healthy and rested].
I will say no on this until my team proves me otherwise and I hope that doesn't happen anytime soon.
5. Is a Central Division Championship no longer a realistic goal?
This kind of links up to question six. Like I said: if our team had been healthy eight or ten games earlier in the season, we could have caught up to Chicago. That may not have been the exact case, but it certainly wasn't an impossibility.
Also keep in mind that Chicago has a very, very serious problem with the salary cap this postseason. I've said this whole season, if the Hawks don't win the Cup this year, they're blowing their only chance in the immediate future. If they can figure out a way to keep their big players and keep this chemistry going [and find a good goalie], then maybe the answer to this question is yes. But for now, I'm going to say no.
4. Will all of the RFAs return next season?
I'm going to expand on this one in a later post, probably come June. For now, I'll list the RFAs for this off-season:
Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Mattias Ritola, Derek Meech, Jakub Kindl.
Who stays, who goes? Who do we try to pick up? Will we get another Hossa-like signing? Again, this will all be in a different post.
3. Is Jimmy Howard ready to continue as Detroit's starting goalie?
I'll pose the same example that Hutter does: Steve Mason.
I think Babcock will be more careful with the goalie situation this coming season [since he kind of really screwed it up this past season, in my opinion]. I think he'll play it more like in 2007-08 with how Dom and Ozzie split things. As much as I am an Ozzie fan and love that goalie to death, next season is the last season of his contract. I think he'll take a backseat to Jimmy. Jimmy's future looks bright and promising - Ozzie's is coming to a close.
Just...don't screw up the goalies next season, Babs. Please. That was the one thing that had me wanting to throttle you.
2. Will Tomas Holmstrom be re-signed?
That rumor about St. Louis going after him is complete bullshit [well, they may have thought about going after him, but they won't get him]. If Homer doesn't re-sign with us, he's going to retire. I firmly believe that after the season he just had, he will be back for at least another year, if not two. And I also believe that if he's back, Lidstrom's back.
Just the thought of Homer in a non-Winged Wheel jersey makes my heart hurt.
1. What is Lidstrom going to do?
That's the million-dollar question. I constantly warned you blog readers to watch these do-or-die games as though it was Lidstrom's last game. I might have been wrong in saying that, but it's better safe than sorry. Sure, Lidstrom isn't as outstanding as he once was. But it's not as if he's suddenly a fourth-line D-man. Screw that. He'll retire long before that happens. He won't pull a Chelios [no offense, Cheli].
I'm preparing myself for his retirement, but honestly? I think he'll sign a two-year deal. Hopefully for a lot less than his current contract is giving him, and knowing our Captain, he knows that he should take a pay cut. Don't hang up the skates yet, Lidstrom. You need that fifth Cup and that seventh Norris trophy.
So that's my take on all of this. I don't know if it's very insightful or not, but hopefully it gives you a different take on everything.