The Bruins don't match up very well against the Habs. Any time those two play, it can go either way. That's pretty much what we saw in their *seven-game* series - it could've gone either way. If the Bruins advance, they beat the Rangers and they make their second consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. For the most part, this team is toying with its conference and most of the West. They didn't get it done, but that doesn't mean they're not a powerhouse. The Wings were a powerhouse for the better part of two straight decades, but with that territory comes a lot of disappointment, as we all know.
As to your other point - I'll believe that most of the conference got better and is going to shove the Wings down into the basement when I see it unfold that way. Until then, I'm saying, as someone who's practically a LGW pioneer in the art of being hopelessly cynical and pessmistic about the Wings, that a healthy Wings team is right there with the likes of the Penguins, Rangers, Lightning, et al. and will challenge for a top seed.
Looking at the playoff teams WE ARE IN THE BASEMENT. Stop ignoring it. We were 8th. So many people here think were a top 4 team in either conference when was the last time that happened? Stop drinking the damn kool aid and face facts. Until we do better were a fringe playoff team. That's what's been proven these last several seasons.