Last season was by far one of the weirdest seasons I've seen. Not sure I can really draw any conclusions from it. The year before we took the Hawks deep in an early round. I don't think that's playing over our heads. They won a series they were predicted to win. We put up a helluva fight against a rival. Tends to happen.
The injuries were unpredictable and ridiculous. The beginning of the season was bad puck luck and just the entire team in one big slump. I actually think the injuries helped in a sense, bc the called up kids sparked the rest of the team.
I think this team really is underrated in a sense. We have some very good players at all positions, and very good young players at all positions. In the end I think we're probably middle of the pack come playoffs if last seasons bad fortunes don't repeat themselves.
I don't think you can underrate potential. I think this team has potential, but they are rated where they should be - lower than most Wings fans would like or expect.
We do have some solid youngsters, but there are big question marks about how they match up with the rest of the league and, if you were building a 'dream team' (even in a salary capped scenario), there are a lot of guys who would get replaced on all four lines... The Wings aren't in a position where they can bring up a bunch of rookies without making big changes, either. Jurco is the only one who doesn't need to clear waivers who has more than a couple games of NHL experience. The fact that some of those 'prospects' will clear waivers through 29 other teams, including Buffalo, the Isles, Edmonton, Calgary, etc. means we're not skating 20 'A' players. Other 'holes' have been identified in numerous posts on these boards - Kindl, Quincy, Cleary, etc.
To me, the telling series was Boston last year. Yes, we were fighting through a number of injuries, but they skated circles. Most of that team playoff team is skating full time this year and that's expecting a lot of improvement by a lot of players and in a lot of areas to expect a completely different result. I do still believe, as others have said, if we can stay relatively healthy, a couple young guys continue to develop, and we catch a couple breaks, we have a shot at outperforming the predictions and keeping the streak alive, but I don't think that makes us underrated by any stretch.