Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Time To Put The Kingdom Up For Sale?

That seems to be the consensus around hockey these days…that the 19 should come to grips with a stark reality.  The MSM, bloggers, fans of “championship” teams who didn’t follow hockey until 2006 and would have let their team move to KC without a second thought prior to that? 

They would like each of you to just go ahead and admit that the Detroit Red Wings are no longer Hockey’s Greatest Team.  No longer Cup contenders, much less favorites.  Four points after five games?  Pitchforks please.  Grain alcohol.  Big women laughing at you at 12:58 am in a dive bar.  It’s all over.  Pipers are lined up, hands out, feet tapping.  Pay them for your success.

And look…look at recent evidence.  Just yesterday…

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Khan(!)‘s playground there kids.  The MLive Wing page and for the love of the adorable one, it’s all bad news.  The Wings are slow.  Franzen under the knife.  Datsyuk’s hurt. 

It’s all going to crash around us.  The only male hockey fans on the planet to use the term “whatev”, the same ones who predicted the Wings wouldn’t even make the playoffs?  Certainly they’re right. 

Not so fast little bitches.  Not so fast.  Bleak? Yes.  Discouraging?  Yep.  Did Tuesday expose some potentially horrific flaws?  Maybe.  Let’s take an objective look…because that’s how we roll here.

Here’s what Uncle Mike, Head Coach for the Canadien(an) Olympic team, had to say yesterday...

“To be successful in this league, you’ve got to compete for 60 minutes and not give up chances,’’ Babcock said. “Our careless play with the puck is hurting us (NHL-high 73 giveaways). Our faceoff circle is hurting us (50.3 percent, 13th in league). Buffalo played well as a five-man unit. We had too much space and separation and weren’t quick enough.’‘

Forget the cliche at the beginning of that and move to the stats.  A league-high in giveaways.  Interesting, but not exactly revealing.  Detroit led the playoffs last year in giveaways.  Pittsburgh was second.  Amount of games played is obviously a factor but style of play also affects that.  One more bit…the Wings, during the playoffs, had 166 giveaways at home.  59 on the road. 

Anyway, if the Wings are playing well, moving the puck…that’s gonna happen.  73 after five games?  Yes, too much.  But that will get better.

Faceoffs?  Wings led the league at 55 percent last year.  They’re at 50.3.  Too many quality F/O guys to think that won’t improve.  But the concern, and I can’t find a stat to support this, is where the faceoffs are lost.  Buffalo’s first PP goal Tuesday? Stafford at the goal mouth?  Cleary had lost the faceoff.  Not so dangerous in itself.  The real problem occured immediately after when a Sabre was allowed to bee-bop in, pick up the puck and send it to the blue line.  No Wing anywhere near him or the puck.  No legs. No hustle.  No energy.

Which leads us to the volcanic disaster of a penalty kill.  Detroit’s given up at least one in all five games and it affects everything.  It symbolizes all our ills.  It is The Issue That Must Be Fu**ing Dealt With.  I offer no insight.  None. I have no idea how a problem this significant can last this long and plague a team so talented and cohesive.  This is not a Ranger team, thrown together without considering where the pieces fit.  Ken Holland doesn’t operate that way.  Every piece has a purpose and for many, a primary task is the PK. 

It sucks now, and it has for more than a year.  But, mothefu**, at some point we have to have faith in the smart people within that organ-I-zation.  I have to believe that if it has this effect on me, then it’s got to be keeping people awake at night.  Head coaches have got to be pacing.  And assistants had better be looking over their shoulders.  Oh, and Captains…yeah, I’m thinking Captains may want to consider reminding some players that success does not start with laziness.

That was a bad loss.  One of the worst we’ve seen.  Buffalo was fast where the Wings were lethargic.  They crashed the net while we had serial killers tap dancing twenty feet away from the crease.  They controlled the puck while the Wings scrambled. 

But here’s the thing.  Skill is still in their favor.  Experience is still there.  Humiliation at losing the Cup to a whining, diving, classless piece of shit “captain” and a team inferior in skill but a favorite in the eyes of a hapless commissioner…yep, that should be there too. 

2-3 after five games, after a trip to Stockholm and back, is not the end.  It could very well be an indication that there are some serious problems.  But none of them are unsolvable because all of them have to do with energy and will.

Ability is one thing, and the Wings are stocked.  Pride is a whole other matter.  Swagger can be fleeting and it’s probably hard to find in Hockeytown right now.  LA’s got it.  Jesus, even Denver does.  And they’re both coming to town this week.  Young, dumb and full of…themselves.  The Wings of old, just last year against Chicago in December and January, took care of teams like that.  Little brother deserved a beating and that’s what he got.  Repeatedly.

It’s a tough stretch, an angry stretch.  But there is no logical way to believe it won’t be righted.  And it will.  The most talented team in hockey still resides in Detroit.  Now it’s just a matter of remembering that talent alone doesn’t win games in October, much less the real important ones in May and June.

Oh, and I’ll say this again…those of you idiotic enough to keep claiming Detroit won’t make the playoffs?  Put it on the line.  Make me a wager or STFU.

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com