Pat Caputo: Star Power Aside, Depth Is The Red Wings’ Greatest Strength
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The Red Wings certainly have their share of stars.
Nicklas Lidstrom is one of the greatest defensemen ever to lace up a pair of skates.
Pavel Datysuk has played perhaps the best hockey of his career to begin this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, opening up the possibility he is the greatest forward in the world.
Yet, an argument can be made that Datsyuk isn’t the best forward on his own team, that it is Henrik Zetterberg, a splendid two-way player in his own right.
And the list goes on and on.
Perhaps even greater than their star power, however, the Red Wings possess superior depth, which was never more evident than Monday night when they took complete command of their opening-round series with the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Red Wings’ 4-2 victory, giving them a three games to none lead in the series, was sparked more by players lower on their proverbial totem pole than their stars.
Datsyuk did not have a goal nor an assist. Lidstrom played less than 19 minutes. Zetterberg remained out with a knee injury.
Detroit’s first goal was scored by 36-year-old Ruslan Salei, a stay-at-home defenseman, whose primary role is to provide a steady presence in front of goalie Jimmy Howard.
Salei plays on the Red Wings’ last defensive pairing. There were even some questioning whether he should be in the lineup for the postseason instead of rookie Jakub Kindl, who was scratched. The questions weren’t raised, though, because Salei is so bad, but because Kindl is so good – too good, honestly, to be scratched on virtually any other team. Kindl is an excellent puck carrier. He can skate it out of trouble. He is sound defensively, too. It was a matter of choosing style and experience over youth