Injuries Are Mounting. Are you scared?
Lidstrom. Datsyuk. Howard. Bertuzzi. Ericsson. Kindl. Eaves. All banged up. Can the Detroit Red Wings win another Stanley Cup with their best defenseman, forward, and goalie out? Up until this point in the season, the Wings have been relatively healthy and have definitely played like it. Now, we are at a point where the “law of averages” has kicked in, and the once healthy Red Wings are starting to pile up injuries. Maybe the better question is, can the Wings win their division?
The Red Wings may play next with seven starters out of the lineup. That’s scary, even if we are talking about the 2002 Red Wings. Is this team getting old? Does Mike Babcock run them too hard in practise? Or is it simply bad luck? Whatever the reason, if the Wings want to win the Central, they’ll have to get great efforts from Kyle Quincey, Doug Janik, Jan Mursak, Joey MacDonald, Brendan Smith, Chris Connor, and Cory Emmerton. They’ll have to get great production from their top line of Zetterberg, Filppula, and Hudler since their second line looks like it’s built to outwork the opposition right now, not outscore them. Like I mentioned last week, Jeff Carter certainly would have been a great addition to the top two lines. The Wings will have to score more goals now than ever, being without the best defensive forward in the league, three defenseman, and their All-Star goalie.
The solution likely lies in the hands of Mike Babcock. It seems every year the Wings go through a span of the regular season with numerous injuries, and they always are able to keep their heads above water. Ken Holland gives Babs the players, and it is up to him to press right buttons and make it work. This isn’t a time to whine, cry, or feel sorry for this team. They are the Detroit freaking Red Wings, who will now have made the playoffs 21 years in a row. The bigger concern is the health of the Red Wings come playoff time. Optimists will say this is a good opportunity for Lidstrom and Datsyuk to heal, rest, and get ready for the playoffs. Pessimists will scream at management to rush these players back, because winning is everything. The correct reasoning contains truth from both viewpoints. Winning is everything, which the Red Wings have done a lot of recently. However, winning down the road is more important than winning right now. Provided the Wings can make the playoffs and get fully healthy in time for the big dance, I think most fans would take a healthy team that finished in fourth place rather than a tired and banged up team that finishes first. The playoffs are a war. Everyone will have to contribute. We remember how hard it was for the Wings playing without Datsyuk for the first half of the Pittsburgh series in ’09. Last year Zetterberg played on one leg and Franzen, Cleary, and Bertuzzi were out in Game 7 against San Jose. Trying to tie it in the final minute of that game with Eaves–Abdelkader–Miller was depressing.
Like Babcock always says, ‘your best players have to be your best players’ if you expect to win. Let’s get the best players healthy and ready to go. I’m not scared. Are you?
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