It's been a long drag through the offseason, but we finally have something to look forward to, even though it's only the preseason. That's right, Red Wings hockey is BACK! The Wings begin their exhibition season in the city we all know and hate, the worse half of the 2008 and 2009 Cup Finals: Pittsburgh.
It's hard to really do any deep analysis on this game that would mean anything: both teams have only just begun their preseason stint and the squad lineups are nothing like they would be during a regular season match-up. The one nice thing we can take away from this showdown (besides a W) is a chance to get a really good look--or listen in this case, as it seems radio may be our only hope of tuning in to the game--at some of the young guys vying for a spot on the roster. Guys like Ritola, Kindl, and Lashoff have to show Mike Babcock that they have the right stuff to excel in the regular lineup.
I find the difference in roster make-up between the Wings and Penguins for this game interesting. If you look around at the projected lineups, it appears that, unlike the Wings, Pittsburgh is throwing pretty much all their studs into this first game. Crosby and Malkin will both be prancing around tonight, God forbid something happen to them during the game (and no, my eyes did not just shift sneakily, you're seeing things).
Because of these differences in rosters, my expectations are not as high as they would normally be. If our MOSTLY starless squad (Modano, Hudler and Franzen will be playing, for example) keeps the game relatively close, then I'm happy. Should they win, and I really hope they do, I'll probably have someone knocking on my door advising me that I'm breaking some sort of noise bylaw or some foolishness.
I'm not going to do up a winning formula for this game, because I think something like that this early on would be silly. I could easily state a couple of things that would help ensure victory, but with little to no information on how some of the younger guys are going to handle playing another club at the NHL level, there are far too many variables to come up with anything reliable or even close to accurate. Play hard, be aware, and make sure you can last 60 minutes or more with gas in the tank. If we can get all our boys to do that tonight, we may get some very good reads on how well rested our vets are and how our prospects may shape up as the year goes on.
It's gonna be interesting. I can't wait.
Till tonight, Wingnuts! Let's Go Red wings!!