Season Preview: Three questions with Red Wings blog Winging It In Motown

We’re previewing the season by asking the experts - other SB Nation blogs!

We’re continuing our preview of the Atlantic Division, this time talking to Detroit Red Wings blog Winging it in Motown. J.J. From Kansas was nice enough to answer our three questions. You can read 3Qs about the Sabres and Maple Leafs here.

1. The Wings have been spending... weirdly. On top of an aging  Zetterberg and Kronwall, they now have long, expensive extensions with  Abdelkader, Nielsen, and Helm. If you're putting on your realistic hat,  when do you think the Wings won't be able to make the playoffs anymore?

Detroit just lost their best possession player and has yet to improve  their defense. We're hopeful Frans Nielsen can have close to the same  effect as Pavel Datsyuk, we're hopeful that Thomas Vanek can bring some  more scoring, and we're hopeful that Steve Ott is... not Steve Ott. This  is for a team that just barely made the playoffs last season.  Hope isn't a strategy. I think the playoffs are absolutely within reach  in what's still a pretty weak Atlantic Division, but I don't think it's  defensible to say it's unrealistic the playoff streak could end this  year.

2. Detroit management sure seems to love Jonathan Ericsson. Do you think  it's hurting the construction of the team's d-corps that he seems to  get so much leeway?

Does Dion Phaneuf open a new checking (Editor’s note: ahem, “chequing”) account after each time he uses check #999 because numbers with four digits confuse and anger him?

The  promising thing about how bad Jonathan Ericsson has been is that we  have heard rumors that the team is actually aware of how bad he is at  playing the shutdown role and is considering ways to allay such a  problem. Unfortunately, we'll have to see it before we can believe it,  and it still does nothing to solve the question about whether Niklas  Kronwall can regain any of his old for or whether he'll continue to  break down with age.

3. A year later, do you see any effect from the switch from Mike Babcock to Jeff Blashill as coach?

In Blashill's rookie season, we saw a team that was adjusting to a new style and looking to turn back into a team looking to be a Babcock team that was no longer coached by Babcock. As a result, the fans saw a team without an identity limp into the playoffs and get bounced in the first round. Since then, the goaltending coach and last holdover of Babcock's assistants have moved on, the guy Blashill brought with him from Grand Rapids has been moved from behind the bench to up in the press box, and two assistant coaches with reputations for being "accountability" guys have  joined.

Blashill's trial period is over at this point. While there's little doubt that the Red Wings would have performed better last season with Babcock's system and the team's identity in place, the hopeful fan's point of view is that the Wings simply were no longer a very good  team and getting a better result last season  would have simply masked how far from contending they've fallen.  Blashill now has to show that they've hit the bottom and are building  towards the climb back up, because if there's a way for them to fall  farther from having a consistent team identity, I don't think he'll be  able to survive it.

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