First of all, I am reading way, way too much panic and negativity about this team moving ahead in the future on the board. So I'd like to revisit some facts. Fact #1) The Sharks are probably the best remaining team (besides us) in the playoffs, correct? So they are the major obstacle standing between us and a second stanley cup, and third finals appearance, in three years. Fact #2) We have outplayed the Sharks in at least two out of three games this series, and maybe in all three. Bad officiating and lucky breaks, NOT TALENT OR COACHING, is the main reason we are down 0-3 instead of up 2-1 or even 3-0...and again, that's against the best remaining team in the playoffs. Fact #3) This isn't the greatest Red Wings team we've ever seen. We have our holes. We don't have remarkable depth. But it's the salary cap era. Comparitively, we are still one of the best 2 or 3 teams in the league...and we had a real chance to beat the sharks and advance. And does anyone remember that this was supposed to be a REBUILDING season after the catastrophic off-season!?!? ANYONE?? The SKY IS NOT FALLING.
Second, on to next season...
...best options? Frolov, too expensive? Tanguay? S. Koivu? Kariya? Selanne?
...Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Filppula, Hudler, Holmstrom is about as good a top six as there is in the league, no question about it. I think that Helm, Eaves, Miller/Draper make a solid fourth line. The issue is the third line. I like Abby centering it. I like a back to his old ways Cleary on the wing. I don't like a slow, out of shape, can't handle the puck, can't play defense, refuses to hit Bertuzzi on the other wing. This is where we need to add someone. Someone that can score a little, plays good defense, and HITS people (or maybe someone that can just score??). We can win a stanley cup with this offense, no doubt about it. Having two guys that are really good with the puck - Hudler and Val - to go along with Pav and Hank on the top two lines is really, really going to make a difference for us next season.
...I for one, do not think that Lidstrom retires. If he does, simple, sign Volchenkov, problem solved (or at least as solved as it's going to be). If Lidstrom does return, however, I think that he and Rafalski need to be split up at even-strength. Both would benefit from having a physical partner at this point in their careers - Kronwall (for nick, the out of position puck mover), Stuart (for raffy, the in position bone crusher). Kindl's going to be on the big league roster for sure. I think his skills overlap more with Lebda's than Lilja's, so in making that decision, I'd chose to bring Lilja back. Plus, who knows if Ericsson will rebound or continue his downward spiral next season. Lilja can step in for him, for sure.
...Nothing to talk about here. Howard was incredible in the regular season. Game three of this series is really the only "bad" game I think he's had all post-season. Not bad at all for a rookie imo. Ozzie has one more year left on his contract. Needs to contribute more next season.
David Clarkson,please.dear God.