There are many here that still remember the 2002 Wings team that won the cup. They were #1 in the preseason rankings. In 2008 the Wings were #3 before the season started. Many analysts gave the nod to San Jose or the Rangers because they were so deep. Many Wings fans felt that those teams were "contending" teams.
Before the season started here, many Wings fans were on the cusp of bailing on this team. No real significant signings in free agency. No changes to the personal. This team was ranked in the middle of the pack in the preseason and were going to possibly miss the playoffs. I loved the tanking thread by the way.
Two months ago, this team was only going to be contending for a playoff spot. Its amazing to see what happens when the team is playing well and is healthy for the most part. Now, all of a sudden, shocked Wings fans are thinking this team can contend for the cup. Guess what? They can! The teams are so even that anyone who makes the playoffs can win the cup. Health, getting hot at the right time, and puck luck are all it takes to make it happen.
I believe this team can challenge for the cup so long as they stay healthy, stay hot, and get those bounces that wins games (look at the Tatar goal against Carolina where it goes in off a defenseman's skate for instance).