I’ve kept my distance from this blog for a little while, because I was afraid that if my fingers met the keyboard, some sort of text-based diarrhea would result. All of our Red Wings blogging colleagues have posted a diatribe here and there – and rightfully so – so I figured I’d take a step back and allow their words to seep in.
But enough’s enough. I’m going to get a few things off my chest because tonight is Game 10 and only having three wins is flat out ridiculous for us spoiled folk.
So, without further ado, here’s my official stance on EVERYTHING.
It’s terrible. Anyone that knows me or reads TPL knows how I feel about Chris Osgood (read: not a fan). He got us to the Stanley Cup Final last year – it seemed like he flipped a switch in April, carried the team to June and promised not to return to his vehemently sub-par regular season performance. Well guess what. He sucks again. If you can’t stop 90% of shots heading your way, you don’t belong in the NHL. Period.
In theory, the league should be overrun with quality goaltenders. There are 700 players in the NHL – and only 60 of them are goalies. Why aren’t they the ones that are each team’s MVP? The fact is, there are only a half dozen of SUPERSTAR goaltenders in the NHL. And the Red Wings don’t need one. They simply need a goaltender that will keep the team in the game. They don’t have one of those, either.
Jimmy Howard is not an NHL goalie. Sorry. He isn’t. He was average (at best) goalie in the AHL, was there for four years and did NOTHING to force the Wings to do anything – except search year after year for a quality backup goaltender. So this year, he’s out of minor league options and it was time to see how the investment paid off. Jimmy Howard is Enron.
I’ve defended Nicklas Lidstrom amidst the “he’s on the decline” calls from around the league. And while I still believe he’s the best defenseman on the planet, he’s not the kind of guy that cracks a game wide open anymore. What he does – and he does it well – is keep the other teams’ scoring chances down. It’s unfair to ask him to be leading the offensive charge, as well.
Brian Rafalski has vanished. He gets my vote for “which Red Wing doesn’t deserve his contract more than the others?”
Nik Kronwall is good at laying guys out, but his defense is God awful.
Brad Stuart. Ditto.
Jonathan Ericsson is the most overrated player on the Red Wings. Even during the playoffs, I never understood everyone’s love to him – he has always made bonehead plays and isn’t as responsible as a Red Wings defenseman needs to be. Sure, it’s exciting that he’s a new face and he’s huge, but until he stops letting guys fly by him, what good is that size?
Brett Lebda has declined quite a bit since his rookie year. Maybe his issues are just more glaring. Whatever it is, he’s clearly the weak link on the blueline (which is – in itself – a weak link).
Can’t seem to put the puck in the net. Who would have thought that losing 90 goals this off-season would lead to diminished goal scoring? Yeah, things might be different if Johan Franzen wasn’t hurt, but the fact is only one player has more than 2 goals this season, and it’s Homer.
Another fact: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg NEED to be catalysts. Without Hossa, Hudler, Samuelsson, Kopecky, and Franzen, someone has to lead the scoring brigade. And it ain’t going Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Williams, and Brad May. I’ve long questioned those moves because it seemed fairly obvious that offense was going to be an issue heading into this season, but I will never doubt Ken Holland. Reeeeally hoping to see a reason for Bertuzzi and May one of these days…
Valtteri Filppula has impressed me this season. He’s always been one of my favorites, and he’s not disappointing. In my humble opinion, he’s the best Red Wing forward all season.
Ville Leino is getting stronger, and that’s encouraging. But he’s not a Calder candidate, like many thought he’d be. But that’s okay, all he’s gotta be is a contributor.
Franzen’s hurts. A lot. With the way the defense is playing, Lilja’s hurts, too.
What’s set this team apart from the other 29 the last few years is the unparalleled depth of NHL calibre hockey players. With the exodus this summer, we no longer have that luxury. So the players that are absolute NHLers need to step up their game, and they seem content shrugging and pointing to the salary cap as a reason they’re not performing.
It was encouraging to read that Holland turned down offers for trades when Franzen was lost because he wanted the young guys to have a trial by fire. That’s awesome. Prove you belong, kids.
5. Special Teams
Terrible. The penalty kill has been WHACK since Todd McLellan left and I’m going to go ahead and blame Brad McCrimmon for the troubles. If you’re going to get scored on 15 times a game during the kill, the least you can do is convert on your power play opportunities.
I believe that Babcock was outcoached in the Final last year, which was surprising because he’s the best in the business. Maybe he’s being outcoached this year, as well, but what do I know? Is he having trouble staying focused due to the split duty with the Olympic responsibilities? I certainly hope not because replacing him is not an option. He’s my favorite personality associated with the Wings and, frankly, you can’t do better.
Tonight, Darren Helm is a healthy scratch. Can’t say I really agree with that move…
I think Bertuzzi is starting to fit in. I like that he's focusing on defense more considering how much our team needs it this year. The offense will come from the other guys because they're too good not to score and eventually he will be a real problem offensively for opponents as he settles in.