The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/16/12 at 02:35 PM ET
Every indication suggests that as soon as Nicklas Lidstrom is able to return from the bone bruise troubling his left ankle, he’ll be back on the Wings’ blueline, maybe as soon as next Wednesday or Friday…But the Wings’ struggles without Lidstrom have the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek suggesting that the Red Wings would be in serious trouble should Lidstrom retire after this season*:
There isn’t panic in the Motor City exactly, but with the news that team captain Nicklas Lidstrom has gone home to have his injured ankle (diagnosed as a deep bone bruise re-evaluated), there has to be concern at the very least. The Red Wings were wiped out in both Los Angeles and Anaheim on the first two games of a short California road trip that wraps up Saturday in San Jose. The good news is centre Pavel Datsyuk is supposed to return for that game, which should give the slumbering offence a boost. The bad news is that without Lidstrom, the defence looks a little thread-bare.
Oh, there’s panic in the Motor City, and the fact that Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson are sidelined as well are highly “underrated” in terms of hobbling the Wings’ defensive corps…
If this is what life without the future Hall Of Famer is going to look like, it’s no wonder that general manager Ken Holland’s off-season priority will be to coax Lidstrom into playing again next year, which would be his 21st season in the NHL. Lidstrom will miss his ninth consecutive game Saturday, the longest period of time he’s ever been out of the line-up in his remarkable career.
Detroit’s overall experience will make them a post-season threat, no matter who they end up facing in the playoffs, but according to defenceman Brad Stuart, they shouldn’t be this bad, no matter who is hurt.
“Obviously, we’ve got a few guys out of the line-up, but we should be a good enough team to put forth a better effort than we have,” said Stuart, in an interview. “Just because you’re missing a couple of guys is no excuse for starting games the way we have.” Stuart noted that the Red Wings got behind 2-0 early to the Kings and then started all right against the Ducks, but then, “one thing goes wrong and we kinda – I don’t know, collapse a little bit – and that shouldn’t happen to a team like us.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this team will be ready to go when the playoffs start, but at the same time, you want to be feeling good about your game when you go in. You don’t want to have to hope that you can turn it on. You want to be clicking and have that confidence. We’ve got to regroup here the next couple of days and get going.”
Life without Lidstrom, should he retire—and as that asterisk* answer, the media corps covering the team fully believes that Lidstrom’s leaning toward returning—would involve the Red Wings very aggresively courting top free agent defensemen to bolster their blueline, and at least the play of Niklas Kronwall, the potentially-departing Stuart and Brendan Smith suggest that the Wings’ blueline isn’t exactly “threadbare.”
The whole team is struggling right now, and everybody needs to step up, forwards, defensemen, goalies and coaches included.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.