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2021 Atlantic Preview Series: Don’t assume rebuilding will make the Wings less of a pain in the rear

Detroit’s rebuilding. That doesn’t mean they’ll be pushovers.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Red Wings

Last Season Record: 19-27-10

Last Season Point Total: 48 Points

Key Departures: Luke Glendening, Evgeny Svechnikov, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Christian Djoos, Calvin Pickard (to the AHL, anyway), Tyler Bertuzzi (for being a dipshit)

Key Additions: Carter Rowney, Jordan Oesterle, Alex Nedeljkovic, Bobby Ryan (maybe, he’s a PTO)

The Red Wings may be bad, but they do have a plan to fix that!...eventually.

The Wings are not wasting much time this year; they’ve been pretty up front about the fact that they are tanking. They obviously have the man for the job to lead said tank and make sure the rebuild goes smoothly in Stevie Y, but he’s got a lot of work still yet to be done. Ken Holland’s old man stink is deep in the carpets of Hockeytown, but it’ll come out eventually once the dozens of prospects they horde up in Grand Rapids are ready to come down. Y’know, with a lot of powerwashing. This team will get very, very much worse before they start to put good games together again.

That doesn’t mean Boston should take them lightly, however.

Boston over the years has struggled with the modern Red Wings offense, which if nothing else can be said to have excellent speed. They’ve won more than they’ve lost, but they’ve been shockingly close games that now teeter on putting the B’s and Wings at a regular season series tie going back to 2017. Bruce Cassidy’s system is generally quite strong, but guys like Dylan Larkin seemingly have that magic touch to cause the B’s defense a lot of trouble, particularly when moving from one end of the ice to the other.

Further, their roster isn’t...completely awful, anymore. Dylan Larkin is still an exceptional forward, Jakub Vrana was a good pickup and will probably remain so, combined with the sudden boon of the Hurricanes pissing every scrap of goodwill NHL fans had for them down their leg and giving them a starting goaltender because of...reasons, I guess. An excellent foundation for future success!

Of course, that isn’t close to enough to win them any championships or divisions. They still have...problems. Their next highest paid NHL Hockey forward who has been playing high contact NHL hockey for five years probably isn’t going to play because he’s scared of one of the smallest needles currently used by doctors, and their forward depth’s standouts after that start and end at Sam Gagner in his 6000th year as an NHLer, with the very same Michael Rasmussen I wrote would not be good at the NHL level back in 2017 has spent his time making the show and then living up to that lofty expectation, and a lot of underwhelming defensive talent. If the best defender you have right now is a power play specialist or got traded within the last year? You’re still a ways out from being a contender.

But! They’re young, they’re gonna be a little chaotic, but that generally leaves a team that could be deceptively better than their roster looks, with plenty of time for them to call up however many members of the German/Swedish national team of 2026 they have crawling around in the AHL. They also have about 15 million in cap space and more of it coming at the end of the year, if they really wanted to, they could really make a splash on the UFA market. That said, I think the Bruins will be able to finally stabilize the usually absurd games these two teams play this year, if only because Stevie Y is interested in only one thing this year, and nothing will stop him from getting it.

Kingston Frontenacs v Oshawa Generals Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

To Red Wings fans, this young boy is their Stanley Cup. It is the moral duty of the Bruins to help them get there by denying them points.

HOT TAEK: While they will ultimately lose the lottery for Shane Wright to Arizona, Claude Giroux becomes a Red Wing after the season ends.