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It's the loss of the big-name players, their continued postseason flops and their advancing age (nine players 33 or older) that has many predicting this team's demise, which prompted general manager Ken Holland to note, "That's really been going on for three, four years now. One year, they'll be right.''

It won't be this season, the Wings say with confidence. They won't garner 124 points during the regular season again, and the Nashville Predators have undoubtedly closed the gap in the Central Division, but the Wings expect to compete for the best record in the league and believe they are still a viable Stanley Cup contender.

"We're a very talented team,'' defenseman Chris Chelios said. "I don't think for one minute anyone can doubt that our chances of finishing first (overall) isn't as good or better than anyone in the league.''

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