Why Red Wings' 100-point feat is absolutely mind-boggling

March, 16, 2009

While we were celebrating Martin Brodeur's terrific achievement over the weekend (Bravo, Martin!), the Detroit Red Wings quietly set an impressive record.

When the Wings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 to the dismay of a packed house at Nationwide Arena on Sunday, they cracked the 100-point mark for an NHL-record ninth consecutive season.

Think about that.

It's an impressive feat under any circumstances. I think it's even more impressive when you consider the Wings have done it as they've transitioned from a Steve Yzerman-Brendan Shanahan-Brett Hull team to a Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Johan Franzen squad. And they've done it as the league has changed from a clutching-and-grabbing circuit that operated without a salary cap to today's post-lockout NHL.

To me, that makes the feat absolutely mind-boggling. It really is a special accomplishment for the Ilitch family, GM Ken Holland and the entire group in Hockeytown.

The Wings, who have had some unusually lopsided losses in recent weeks, put on a clinic against the upstart Blue Jackets. Afterward, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock made his feelings about the defending champions very clear.

"I don't care who plays Detroit," Hitchcock said. "If they decide to play that way, not many teams are going to beat them ... and nobody is going to beat them in a series. If they're going to play that way, certainly teams are going to be lucky to win games against them."

Interestingly, the Red Wings are three points better through 70 games than last season's team. You might not have guessed that based on the many puck watchers who've voiced concern over the Wings. In particular, there has been a lot of discussion over the club's goaltending. Clearly, three-time Cup winner (twice as a starter) Chris Osgood has struggled for a good portion of the season. In recent games, though, with the exception of the club's ugly 8-2 loss to Columbus on March 7, Osgood seems to be finding his way. He has won four of his past five starts with two shutouts. Detroit coach Mike Babcock also committed to starting Osgood against the Flyers on Tuesday.

This season, whenever the Wings have been challenged, they've responded in championship manner. I think that says something. In the postseason, there are so many things that come into play. So I do think they could be beaten under the right circumstances. But, if you're asking, I'm still picking them to repeat as champions.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.


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