|Date & Time||Wednesday September 25, 2013, 12:00 AM (EDT)|
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The biggest benefactor from this season's realigment is easily the Detroit Red Wings. Finally in a conference where the rest of the teams are in the same time zone as them, Detroit should thrive with lighter travel and some easier competition. Sure, the Bruins are there to deal with, but when you consider how much tougher the Western Conference has been from top to bottom year in and year out, this is a huge win for the Red Wings.
There have been some changes up front and despite increasing in age, they appear to be good moves for the Red Wings moving forward. Compiling veterans has never been something that the Red Wings fear and the addition of Daniel Alfredsson might be one of the best moves of the offseason. Alfredsson can still play and he'll be asked to just fit in on a club that can offer him a lot of skill to play with. Stephen Weiss was also acquired and adding him down the middle with Pavel Datsyuk really helps Detroit out. Detroit always seems to be the type of club that scores by committee so defenses are going to have to choose who to key in on, while risking being burned by some very solid depth players. The Red Wings showed that even when they look like they'll have a down year they can surprise us, much like they did last season. This year the playoffs should be expected.
Defensively, the Red Wings might be looking to add some depth come the trade deadline, but their top six should be good enough to get them through to that point. Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson should be solid and youngsters Dany DeKeyser and Brendan Smith have a lot of potential moving forward. Again, in Detroit it's all about playing as a team and this defensive corps will need the help of their forwards to really excel. There isn't much wow factor when it comes to the Red Wings blue line, but that's exactly how they like it in Detroit.
In goal Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson return between the pipes and Howard will look to build on a fantastic abbreviated season that saw him post 21 wins, a 2.13 goals against average, .923 save percentage, and five shutouts. The New York goalie probably won't get much consideration to play for Team USA at the 2014 Olympics, but that has more to do with the great number of American goalies out there right now and has nothing to do with Howard's play. He'll be the back bone to a team that has a chance to make a lot of noise in their first season in the Eastern Conference.