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Sunday, September 28, 2008


28 September 2008

Stanley Cup Champions. Again. For the 4th time in the last 11 seasons, the Cup made its way to Detroit. The Red Wings celebrated their victory by going out and…getting better. Will the 08-09 season end with another victory parade?
Over the past three seasons, no team has come out of the starting gate faster than Detroit. Through the first ten games, the Wings average +2.3 against the Playoff Qualifying Curve. Significantly, the Red Wings have been the first team called IN the playoffs by OGA in two of the past three seasons, clinching playoff berths before young trick-or-treaters donned their costumes.

Some statistics of note from last season:
  • Detroit was the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff berth (per OGA), on 24 OCTOBER
  • Finished 3rd in Goals For (252) and 1st in Goals Against (179)
  • Ten players scored 10+ goals, and five scored 20+
  • Eleven players had a plus/minus greater than +10, and seven were greater than +20
The Red Wings signed free agent winger Marian Hossa in the off-season, which sent a clear message to the rest of the league: We have the Cup, and we intend to keep it. As no team has repeated as Stanley Cup Champs since the Wings themselves did it back in 97 & 98, they have their work cut out for them. To retain the Cup, Detroit must deal with a short off-season, the inevitable “Stanley Cup Hangover” through the early part of the season, and tougher competition within the Central Division – the Wings’ only weakness last year (they went 17-12-3 against divisional opponents, and 39-7-4 against the rest of the NHL). While all the above will certainly take a toll, perhaps the Red Wings’ greatest challenge in 08-09 will be…

(cont)…Motivation. After playing 104 regular season and playoff games last season, Detroit – the players, the coaching staff and team management – has to be tired. Once you’ve won the Cup, how difficult is it to motivate yourself to go out and do what it takes to win another one? And, in an age of ever-increasing (salary cap-induced) parity, how do you rise above the hungry up-and-coming clubs?

The Red Wings’ first 10 games are played 9 – 29 OCTOBER. Our exhaustive research indicates that in that time frame, Detroit earns and average PQC rating of 7.3 and about 15 points in the NHL standings. Last year saw the Wings reach +2.5 above the PQC and clinch a playoff berth by 24 OCTOBER. Detroit continued to play well above the curve until game 50, then took their collective foot off the gas and coasted (played .5 below the PQC) from games 51-70. At game 71, the Red Wings shifted into playoff mode as easily as a Mustang slips into 5th gear, going 8-3-1 down the homestretch and carrying that momentum into the playoffs.

Some statistics of note for the first month of the season:
  • Post-Lockout, the Red Wings have a combined record of 21-7-2 through the first ten games
  • They have clinched a playoff berth on 24 OCTOBER in two of the last three seasons
  • Detroit plays only one back-to-back set of games in their first ten, and the first game is at home. Over the last three seasons, the Wings are 26-26 in the second game.
OGA will be measuring the Red Wings against their average PQC rating of 7.3, as well as against other NHL teams, in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with Detroit’s Game 10 Report, due to season subscribers by 2PM CST on 30 OCTOBER, and available for order from ongoalanalysis.com by 2PM CST on 31 OCTOBER. (See a sample G10R here… )

Detroit has been the most prolific team in hockey over the past three seasons, culminating with a Stanley Cup win in 07-08. As OCTOBER nears, the rest of the NHL must come to grips with the fact that this years’ model is even better (on paper). At this time, the only question facing the Wings is whether or not they have the desire to take to the ice and claim the Cup again in 08-09…or so it would seem. Teams around the league have made improvements, as well, and they are both better rested and hungry. The challenge awaits. Will Detroit rise to the occasion? Stay tuned to The OGA Blogs for updates, and check out the Red Wings’ G10R for a comprehensive progress report. Before the rest of the NHL knows, before the Wings themselves know that they’re IN the playoffs, OGA knows…and you can, too.

Monday, tune in for the Florida Panthers SPR. Until then, Big Tex says, “Try the corny dogs.”

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