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Wing and a prayer

Very few expected the Red Wings to be fighting for a playoff spot after two straight runs to the Stanley Cup final. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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Very few expected the Red Wings to be fighting for a playoff spot after two straight runs to the Stanley Cup final. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Happy Friday, y’all/you all. We’re back to our multiple-question mailbag format – and as per usual, we’ve been inundated with a variety of inquiries on a slew of topics, so let’s get right to it.

Hey Adam, do you think the Detroit Red Wings will make the playoffs? I think this is the worst season they played in a while, so I think they won't. Sincerely,
Domenic Scuderi, Windsor, Ont.

Hey Domenic,

I do think the Wings have another post-season push left in their black-and-blue bodies. You don’t have character players such as Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom on the roster and simply fade into the draft lottery.

The problem Detroit faces is the same problem any NHL team does on the bubble of playoff contention: sure, they have to win a lot more games than they did in the first half of the season, but almost as importantly, they’ll need assistance from other squads to ensure there are many more two-point games (in other words, games that end in regulation) between the Wings’ Western Conference opponents than games in which both teams gain points in the standings.

In the past, Detroit has been so good in the early part of the season, they’ve been able to afford a stink streak in late winter or early spring. Now they’ve got no room for error and require a little help from some non-friends. That is highly un-Wings-like.

Hey Adam, I know this is a little bit late, but why was Willie Mitchell never even considered in the Canadian Olympic team by most writers? Even if he didn't make the team, I would argue he had more of a right to a spot than Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf or Jay Bouwmeester. He's been nothing but a consistent defensive force, not to mention a leader since he came to the Canucks. Give the guy some respect!
Robin Young, Halifax, N.S.


Hey Robin,

You want respect? Look no further than THN’s All-Decade Team, which Mitchell was named to a few weeks back. We definitely appreciate what he brings to the Canucks.

And honestly, I’m sure Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman does as well. But ask yourself if you’d take a 32-year-old Mitchell instead of Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, all of whom have their best days ahead.

Then ask yourself if Mitchell should have bumped Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer or Dan Boyle off the roster. I think you’d have to agree most people would’ve made the same decision Yzerman did.

Adam, something I have always wondered about is the difference between Olympic hockey rules and that of the Ontario League and NHL when it comes to hits and fighting.

There must be stricter rules in Olympic hockey, so why can't the rules be the same right across the board? This would force players and their coaches to clean up the play and rely on skills, rather than brutal hits and fighting. Far too many players are being damaged for life and no one in the boardrooms seem to care! Regards,
William Lon Clark, Woodstock, Ont.


William,

The Olympics and NHL playoffs always provide an absolute refutation of the argument that constant punch-uppery, scrums after every play and over-the-edge behavior is an inherent “safety valve” for athletes involved in such a physical sport.

Clearly, NHLers participating in the post-season or Olympics somehow summon the willpower to let their play answer any perceived on-ice wrongdoing – and those games almost always are more entertaining for it.

The follow-up argument ruffian-istas try to counter that fact with goes something like, “well, in an 82-game season, players’ emotions can’t be held in check the way they are in important games.” To which I would say, “well, seeing as every point really does matter in the NHL these days, every game is important.”

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Just think of the regular season as 15 Olympic-style, two-week tournaments and it’s easy to get beyond the bunk.

Hi Adam, I am a Calgary Flames fan and I was wondering what they should do with the team. As of late they have been not winning and had a terrible loss in San Jose 9-1. Do you think there will be a big trade or a change for the team?
Sarah Randle, Calgary


Hi Sarah,

If any NHL squad requires a change of personnel in the worst way, it’s the Flames.

As XM Radio’s Scott Laughlin, THN.com editor Edward Fraser and I discussed on last week’s THN Radio Show, Calgary needs an offensive infusion as badly as the guy who sings “Pants on The Ground” needs to get over his clothing etiquette obsession.

They’re going to have to surrender some of their defensive depth to address that issue, but if GM Darryl Sutter sticks to the status quo past the March 3 trade deadline, he deserves to be lambasted by Flames fans and media. Everybody knows what ails this team, so there can be no excuses in fixing it.

Adam, what are the chances of the Bruins firing Claude Julien before the Olympic break? This team has played with no heart all season and rarely gives an effort required to win.

Lack of effort can't be blamed on injuries and I think the Bruins have tuned out Claude, just like the players in Montreal and New Jersey did. If he is fired, who do you think some likely replacements could be? Maybe Cam Neely?
Adam Dempsey, East Millinocket, Maine


Adam,

Hold on a second – you’re telling me you want the NHL’s reigning coach of the year fired because his team wasn’t at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but one point out of a playoff spot with three games in hand on the eighth place team? And on top of that, you want to replace him with someone who hasn’t a shred of professional coaching experience?

You’re welcome to think whatever you’d like, but Julien isn’t going anywhere. Have a little patience – and more importantly, hope that Tim Thomas regains his Vezina Trophy form of last season.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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