Wanted to add something to this:
Do you know what a slightly healthier season and/or fewer boneheaded mistakes from Kyle Quincey and/or better luck in the shootout means? Well, for one thing, one more point in the standings gets us the Penguins in the first round. (We ended the regular season tied with the Jackets in terms of points.) I remember very cleary - we wanted the Pens, because we knew we stacked up well against them (even without Zetterberg and Ericsson), and the Pens fans didn't want the Wings, because they knew the Wings stacked up well against the Pens (even with Crosby and Malkin and Neal and Kunitz and The Mighty Matt Niskanen and Future Hall of Famer Brooks Orpik). The Pens were let off the hook and given the Jackets. Because of a tiebreaker rule. Because Johan Franzen and Joakim Andersson spent time as our top center and our heart-and-soul leader had surgery and...Jared Cowen*. (*Don't say we need an enforcer.)
Seven more points? We're even with ZOMG CUP CONTENDERS THE MONTREAL CANADIENS. Eight more points? We're even with ZOMG 2015 EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING. The Flyers? They finished a whopping one point ahead of us. The Rangers, who went to the Stanley Cup Finals? They finished a whopping two points ahead of the Flyers, three points ahead of us.
Zone Entries and the Red Wings [Winging It In Motown]
We've noted here before that whenever somebody gets to play with Tatar or Nyquist, they get a notable bump in possession. In this sample of data, the Wings generated .57 shots per Nyquist entry (whether by dump or carry), while they generated just .44 shots for every Joakim Andersson entry. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot, but let's project that over the course of a full season. Nyquist was on pace for about 400 entries of any kind over the course of the season. In a world where both players had 400 entries, Nyquist's entries would be worth 52 more shots over the course of the season, or 4-5 goals. That's probably worth 1-2 points in the standings, which means the Wings play a much more beatable Pittsburgh team in round 1 instead of the Bruins.
So, again, something as seemingly small as Andersson playing a greatly elevated role for a game or two due to injuries - that alone was, perhaps, the difference between the Pens and Bruins in the first round. Point being, again, it's easy to say the glass is half-empty for the Wings and that they're barely a playoff team in the weak East. But I personally believe that's selling the team - and its architect - short.