Finger on the Panic Button
The Detroit Red Wings looked like the Detroit Dead Things last night. They lost 4-1 to the Calgary Flames, bringing their losing streak to an astounding six games.
Niklas Kronwall, one of the three Wings I don't have an issue with, replied to reporter's questions with, "It can’t really get much worse than this."
Oh, I'm sorry to contradict you, Nik. Things can get a LOT worse. It's about time to hit the panic button in Detroit.
This isn't because they have lost 6 games in a row. Detroit's goaltending has been sensational with Jimmy Howard playing the best hockey of his career (he's the second player I don't have a problem with). Defensively, keeping the puck out of the net has been fine with Nick Lidstrom leading the way (that's three).
This is because they can't score a freaking goal. Six goals in their last six games, and none have been pretty. Dan Cleary's goal last night shouldn't even count as a goal as it hit his pectoral and went in for Detroit's only goal of the night.
There are so many things wrong here that it doesn't make sense to me. Detroit not scoring? That never used to be the problem; it was always goaltending (remember Chris Osgood/Howard/Joseph/Hasek/Legace all being terrible goalies?)
There's always the argument that the Wings are old. Guess what? I'm starting to believe that right now. As a self-proclaimed Wings expert, I think there are some guys that need to step up or get out, one being Cleary, the other is Todd Bertuzzi. Cleary can't score or do anything else. He isn't a powerplay type player, and he isn't used on the penalty kill anymore either. So why is a third line player on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg? Bertuzzi has taken dumb penalty after dumb penalty. He's been slow the whole year and hasn't done a lot positive, other than taking the body.
So with old Cleary and Bertuzzi being horrible, who else do we lean on? Jiri Hudler? The guy who's been a healthy scratch and doesn't deserve the $2.875 million he's getting this year? How about Valterri Filppula; the next Henrik Zetterberg? Patience is growing thin with him as well. He doesn't shoot and stickhandles way too much.
Remember the debate about keeping Johan Franzen or Marian Hossa? Right now I feel like even though I hate him, Hossa is a better choice than Franzen. He's consistent and plays a perfect second line role with the Blackhawks. He puts up points, which is what the Wings need, and he has the ability to take a game over. Franzen hasn't done it in a while.
Detroit can't rely on grinders or rookies to step it up, so it naturally falls to Datsyuk and Zetterberg. These two don't look right at all. Zetterberg looks like he's skating in quicksand, and Datsyuk looks very weak on the puck. They'll break out soon, but seeing them struggle this badly is concerning.
The problem is also Detroit's powerplay. This weird four forward garbage is clearly not working, but the continuously put Zetterberg on the point for some reason. You can tell Lidstrom doesn't know what the heck is going on (a first), because he can't set up Brian Rafalski for the one timer anymore. Maybe missing Rafalski is the problem; because Ian White hasn't been what I thought he would be (Raffy's replacement).
Is it a coaching problem? Mike Babcock's comments are getting stale. It's the same old crap that he's said the last five losses. Are the players really going to respond to that? I want to hear Babs get pissed! This fan base has a right to know what the problem is with this team, because they were clearly angry last night, booing the team off the ice. The Wings deserve it. They played horribly. I listened to the game on the radio, and at the second intermission I heard the announcer say that they played their best period of the year. Did they score? No. So I don't care how well you play, you didn't score, you didn't win.
All that matters at the end of the day is if you score and if you win. You need more goals than the other team. So unless Detroit finds a way to get that black disk of rubber behind into the white netting with the red posts around it, they will continue to lose, look old and search for answers.
21 straight playoff appearances are on the line. My finger is on the panic button.