The Red Wings are moving to the big, bad, new Eastern Conference, where teams are said to devour smaller, softer, skilled clubs, like some of the wimpy guys who skate in the West. Or so the story goes. How will the redeveloping Red Wings grapple with the consequences? Will any moves on free agents beginning today account for the difference in styles of play? Before we all get too far down the road, we ought to check some of the assumptions and listen to the two guys charged with making the transition. Analyzing statistics yields some conclusions. First, the Red Wings are not among the smallest teams in the NHL, and Western teams are not significantly smaller than those in the East. But a lot of the stuff about physical aspects of the game is generally true. There is not a statistic for physical play, but there are statistics that suggest physicality: hits, fights, blocks and penalties. Eastern teams generally hit and fight more, block more shots and take more penalties. But the quicker, skilled teams in the East, like the Penguins, Canadiens and Capitals, vied for the top playoff spots last season. So does it much matter? Asked if the Red Wings must adjust their game to win in the East, coach Mike Babcock said he talked to one of his former assistants, Paul MacLean, who moved to the East two seasons ago to coach the Senators. MacLean justly won the 2013 Jack Adams Award for the coach who contributed most to the success of his team. “I asked him the same question,” Babcock said. “He says it’s more physically demanding right from the get-go, as far as fighting and physicality. But he told me that he just did what he always did.
Red Wings can hold their own in rugged Eastern Conference
Detroit News | Jul 5