Kevin Allen writes that the Detroit Red Wings are one of five teams in danger of missing the playoffs this season. Similar to his reports while speaking with PHR, Allen lists a questionable defensive corps, inconsistent goaltending and whether or not goal scorers like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist will find the net as they should as reasons why they may not make it back for a 26th straight season. Though he could see them sneaking in, the Wings are more vulnerable than ever before. It all depends on youth and everything coming together.
Allen also lists the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues as candidates to possibly miss. With the Kings, Allen believes that the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes, if better, could push the Kings who lost Milan Lucic to Edmonton. The Flyers, a surprise team in the playoffs last season, will have more competition in the Metropolitan Division while the Canadiens, who struggled after Carey Price’s injury, will also be better in the Atlantic, making the Eastern Conference a lot tougher.
The Islanders, Allen writes, lost some key players in Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo. Though he calls it “sinful” to bet against a John Tavares led team, he still wonders if they grabbed enough to compensate for their losses. Finally, with the Blues, Allen reports that they took a “half step” back while division foes Chicago, Minnesota, and Nashville all improved. Further, Arizona and Calgary are better, crowding the already tight Western Conference. Losing David Backes, Brian Elliott, and Troy Brouwer also doesn’t help for depth purposes.
- Earlier in the week, Allen also compiled a list of the ten most pivotal players heading into the season. Number one on that list is Kari Lehtonen, who will make an early push to be the primary option between the pipes for the Stars. Though he has struggled in the past, he has the opportunity to backstop a potential Stanley Cup contender. Should he not, the Stars have been an oft-reported team to land Ben Bishop should he be available. Other names Allen included were Brian Campbell, a player he believes could solidify the Blackhawks defense, and Elliott, who could finally give the Flames a strong goaltending option.