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Caputo: Three Players Who Hold The Biggest Key For The Red Wings This Season

By: Pat Caputo

1. Jimmy Howard, Goalie - He has had solid regular seasons, but Howard's performance in the playoffs last season was disappointing in a first-round loss to Nashville. Howard has to be at the top of his game, especially now that all-time great defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has retired.

2. Pavel Datsyuk - During last season, The Hockey News named Datsyuk as the second-best player in the NHL, according to a poll of players. He didn't perform like it in the playoffs after having in-season knee surgery. The Red Wings desperately need Datsyuk, an amazingly skilled performer, to have his best season.

3. Niklas Kronwall - Known for his big hits, Kronwall has also been a solid all-around player. But he must be better than that now that he is the leader of the Red Wings' defensive corps following Lidstrom's retirement.

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