KK Members Blog
It’s been said for quite a while that the success of the Detroit Red Wings in the regular season is due to their beating-up of divisional opponents. While it’s historically been a weaker division, it’s actually become quite a bit stronger in recent seasons. As late as last year’s playoffs, we’d heard many broadcasters bring up the idea that the Wings pad their regular season points totals due to playing a weak division all season long, despite the fact that their record against their own division last season was far worse than their records against other divisions.
When the Wings won the Stanley Cup last year, it seemed to silence most about the subject. Still, a lot of writers’ season previews still had most Central teams missing the playoffs and staying in the bottom of the conference standings. However, what we’ve seen play out this year has been a drastic difference from years past: the Central division is arguably one of the, if not THE, strongest in the NHL. Here’s some data to support my thesis (as of the standings the morning of Saturday, March 7, 2009).
The following is a summary of all games played against divisons, with points earned, points earned per game, and percentage of possible points earned against the divisions. Note: all data includes only the records of OTHER divisions against the named division (e.g. the “Points Earned Against Central” are for the five other divisions, and do not include the Central division itself). To read this chart in plain English, take the column heading, append the division name and total, and prepend “For all other divisions combined”, to get something like this: “For all other divisions combined, their points earned against the Central division is a total of 242”.
Mats Sundin is coming back to town tomorrow. I have appreciated watching him play for the past 13 years here in Toronto, but I’m still booing the guy. As his final gesture to Toronto, he left, when he could have been the gift that kept on giving. Sundin could have brought in a boatload during last year’s trade deadline, but declined his waive his no-trade clause, knowing he was not going to return to TO. Had he waived his NTC, it could have sparked a wave of waving NTC’s from Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe, which would have brought in a number of players, including Jeff Carter. So rather than Sundin leaving on a good note, he left on a sour note, and that is the note that I would be singing to tomorrow night.
OK, so that’s not an option like firing the head coach is. I just wanted to feel like I belonged here, since the previous two blog posts were about firing someone.
However, there definitely is a problem in net for the Red Wings, as yesterday’s miserable performance showed once and for all. And it’s not going away. While the Red Wings have now finally stopped giving up quite so many shots a game, the Goal Against have stayed steady. And that points the finger then squarely at the goalies.
So what is Osgood’s problem? (I’m focusing on Osgood because Conklin, while not stellar, hasn’t been so terrible either).
#1, Osgood is not controlling rebounds.
We’ve seen some goals scored on him lately that involve crazy bounces, including a terrible one yesterday against Colorado. Ozzy is not playing it as safe as he needs to and is still trying to force things, that’s clear. He still needs to simplify his game some more and control those rebounds. He not a Hasek-twitch-reflex goalie and never has been, and it almost looks like that’s what he’s playing like as of late.
#2, Osgood is not 100% square on shots.
I’m not sure why this hasn’t been mentioned more, but he’s not getting good positioning on some of the shots. This is sometimes leading to the rebounds mentioned above, if not the puck just blowing by him outright. Again, simplicity… just get square. Going back to some fundamentals would help him immensely.
#3, Osgood, despite everything he says, is NOT relaxed out there.
Osgood’s best trait is his relaxed demeanor. Last season during the Cup run he never panicked, never looked frantic in net. This year, he looks both, and the rest of the team is feeding off it negatively. If he can get back to basics, the calmness will likely follow. But until then, he’s going to play and look like a wounded duck out there.
So what to do?
I’m not sure. Conklin is not the answer, that much is still clear. He’s a good backup… but not going to take the starting load and not consistent enough himself. Howard and Larsson aren’t ready for Cup runs either. With that in mind, as well as DET’s lack of cap space, I think at this point it’s safe to say that the Wings are going to ride Osgood, for better or worse, and hope that he can straighten himself out.
In the meantime, if you’re a Wings fan reach for the Pepto. You’re going to need it for at least a while yet….
Seriously, how long will it be till we see Michel Therrien fired? How many more excuses will we see? I saw the meltdown begin during Stanley Cup Finals calling the Wings cheaters with obstruction, diving, acting, and so on.
Yes he did coach the Pens to the SC Finals but now this is a different team with different players and you have to adjust. The excuses continued this season but last season it obviously worked. Michel has called out plenty of players and there were more excuses in interviews. Come on, when will you start coaching instead of making excuses and calling out your players.
After watching last night’s game against Toronto, I feel he needs to go. No more excuses after leading 2-0 and giving up 6 unanswered goals. If the playoffs started today; Therrien = FAIL. Hmmm maybe I need to make an excuse for writing this blog….
After the Canadiens’ fourth consecutive loss against the Oilers yesterday, it is clear that the Canadiens players don’t want to play for their coach anymore. They have lost nine of their past 11 games, during which they scored only 25 goals (2.27 GF per game) and surrendered an astounding 48 goals (4.36 GA per game).
The Habs have lost their last seven road games and have still four road games to go before returning home on Feb. 21 against Ottawa.
Carbonneau keeps juggling his lines like a Cirque du Soleil juggler, trying to find some chemistry among his players, but since they don’t play together for more than a few shifts, it’s hard to build chemistry.
Carbonneau doesn’t have a game plan. The Canadiens don’t fore-check, can’t make a good first pass, are unable to clear the front of the net, don’t finish their checks, and don’t win one-on-one battles. They clearly need to go back to basics; however, they don’t practice. Carbonneau prefers sending them to a bowling alley to hone their shooting skills.
The Canadiens are lucky to have registered that many points this season, because they’ve been sloppy most of the season, but they have been able to win some games because of their talent. The problem is that the farther we get into the season, the harder it is to win games without working, and the Canadiens don’t work. As soon as they get scored on, they stop hustling and playing hard; they simply give up.
When you give up, it means you don’t care, and that’s the job of the coach to make the players care, which is not happening right now.
I know that Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau are close friends, but it’s time to put an end to their working relationship, especially since Gainey can’t find a trading partner just yet because of the salary cap. We are still three weeks away from the deadline, and the Canadiens can’t afford to wait that long to make changes.
The Senators waited way too long before canning Craig Hartsburg, as I had predicted on Jan. 7, 2009 here > Hartsburg to be fired (Hartsburg was fired at the beginning of February).
GM Bob Gainey must make his move NOW! Time to put a veteran coach behind the bench—someone with extensive experience like Larry Robinson, Bob Hartley, or John Tortorella.
It’s been a while since I’ve come through with a bog entry. A new son (in addition to a 22 month old son) quickly eats up your time.
That said, I can’t stand this fighting talk nonsense anymore. The yuppie media hasn’t missed a chance to ram the anti-fighting drivel down our throats. Forget what the players have to say. Forget what the fans have to say. The yuppie media wants changes; and by God you are going to hear about it.
Leading the charge as always is TSN. Their most recent (well I haven’t checked in a couple hours) article focuses on the little known “Concussion Summit.” Apparently this Summit wants to completely ban fighting at all levels of hockey. From TSN:
“Fighting should be eliminated from hockey at all levels of the game, according to recommendations released Tuesday from an expert panel dealing with concussions in hockey… Fighting is one of the known causes of concussion, and may result in the related long-term complications,” the panel’s summary statement says. “Fighting can cause needless death.”
I have to ask, how long did it take the” expert panel” to come up with this Earth-shattering conclusion? May, can, might, could, would… let’s get them all in while we’re at it.
And before they concluded their “expert” research, did they ever take a look at crosschecking, tripping, slewfooting, highsticking, boarding, hitting from behind, shooting a puck over 80 mph, skating with razor sharp skates at breakneck speeds?
Because, my expert research concludes that the above actions too “may result in the related long-term complications [of concussions]… and [insert above actions] can cause needless death.”
In the midst of Vancouver’s worst slide of the year, Willie Mitchell check Mason Raymond hard during a drill, and Raymond retaliated with a few cross checks. The scuffle ended when Shane O’Brien challenged Mitchell to a fight.
You know me I am always tinkering. Looking at ways to keep the roster somewhat intact and payroll not insane. A couple of options I thought of, and keep in mind I used the payroll info from Red Wings Central for players currently under contract for 2009-2010.
It has been quite a week.
As all frequent KK readers are undoubtedly aware, there’s been a bit of a debate as to whether or not the league is justified in “suspending” Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk for one game as a punishment for the players absence from the All-Star Weekend festivities.
I’m a die-hard Red Wings fan. Plain and simple. For that reason, I don’t think I need to go into details about my opinion on the “suspensions”. I feel that forcing Lidstrom and Datsyuk to miss a game does nothing more than punish thousands of fans that have paid good money to see meaningful, regular season NHL hockey.
A number of my fellow Wings fans are calling for Ken Holland/Mike Babcock/Red Wings brass to do something drastic to prove a point. For instance, some people feel Holland should call up players to replace Lidstrom and Datsyuk, even if it puts the team over the cap. Others think that Babcock should instruct Lidstrom and Datsyuk to dress and simply defy the suspension. And more think that the club should just forfeit the game on principal alone.
I won’t bore you with my reasons why I think all these methods are wrong—because they don’t matter.
What matters is this—the Detroit Red Wings—from the Ilitch family, to Jimmy Devellano, to Ken Holland, Steve Yzerman, and Jim Nill, all the way down to Mike Babcock and his players on the pro roster, even down to the Grand Rapids Griffins and their stable of prospects and coaches that work hard to feed the big club with NHL-ready talent—every last one of these people is total class.
Ken Holland will undoubtedly stand up for his players, as he already did by telling them to stay home and just take the “suspensions”. In the face of criticism, he will never ally with any side or opinion other than that which is best for these two players and this organization.
But one other thing you can take to the bank is that Ken Holland, Mr. Ilitch, and company, will most certainly not undercut the league. Because they never have and never will stoop to the level the NHL operates at. They are above that. All of them. Every last person involved in this team is above it. Detroit will take the high road—Lidstrom and Datsyuk will sit, the team will play short a man, and every player that’s on the bench tonight will play harder to make up for it, and they’ll be proud win or lose.
When the inept owners and management groups of teams in non-hockey markets wouldn’t start a season without a cap and revenue sharing, did Mike Ilitch go crying to the press about it? Did Ken Holland whine about how it wasn’t fair that he’d have to curtail his spending toward building a winning club in order to subsidize teams with trash in the front office and trash on the ice? As the 2009 offseason rapidly approaches, has Ken Holland complained that the cap system is likely to force him to lose home-grown talent that his ace scouts worked their asses of to find? And has he started a shit-storm over the fact that the CBA doesn’t allow restructuring of contracts, despite the fact that the likes of Kris Draper and Nick Lidstrom would probably take a little less if it helps bring back that home-grown talent for ‘09-‘10? No. No. No. And no. Instead he took the situation he was presented with, and built another Cup champion out of it.
The point? The Red Wings do it right. And when the dust settles from this entire ASG situation, all that will be left is the Detroit Red Wings organization, having taken the high road one more time. Doing the selfless thing in the face of ignorant decision-making.
On February 25 2007, the Montreal Canadiens veteran defenseman Craig Rivet and a 5th round selection in 2008 to the San Jose Sharks for young defenseman Josh Gorges and a 1st round selection in 2007 (Max Pacioretty).
Now a member of the Buffalo Sabres, Rivet helped the Sharks go deep in the playoffs the past two seasons even tough they weren’t able to make it to the finals. In 91 games with the Sharks, Rivet scored six goals and 37 assists for 43 points.
He was later traded this summer along with San Jose’s 7th round selection in 2010 to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2nd round choice in 2009 and a 2nd round choice in 2010.
Meanwhile, Josh Gorges blossomed into a very reliable defenseman over his two years in Montreal. At first, things were not quite easy for Gorges as he was a frequent healthy scratch for most of the 2007 season.
However, last season he finally made it as a regular rearguard and played 62 games, notching nine assists besides his partner Francis Bouillon.
Gorges, 24, has seen an increase of ice-time this season being used in every situation (even on the powerplay) and his statistics have improved accordingly. Gorges already has one goal and seven assists for eight points in 40 games. He has a team-best +18 plus/minus differential good for the tenth rank league-wide.
But the key element of that trade is Max Pacioretty who finally made it to the NHL this season thanks to numerous injuries to key Habs players.
After a great season with Michigan University last season where he registered 15 goals and 24 assists for 39 points in 37 games, Pacioretty signed his first NHL contract, a three-year entry-level pact, this summer with the Canadiens.
Recalled from Hamilton on January 1st, 2009, Pacioretty scored his first NHL-goal on his first shot in a 4-1 loss against New Jersey. Now playing on a line with veterans Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec, Max Pax has tallied two goals and 1 assist for three points after only four games.
Pacioretty is a good power forward with above average skills. A good skater with quick feet. He handles the puck very well, and he has a good wrist shot with quick release. His size and tenacity allow him to drive to the net consistently.
Max Pacioretty will likely be this year’s Sergei Kostitsyn even when Koivu, Higgins and Tanguay come back from their injuries.
About KK Members Blog
If you want to be a hockey writer, be our special guest!
How to Post
We only ask that you avoid profanity, and that you're careful to credit your sources -- news media or other bloggers -- and provide links to those other sites when appropriate.
Need help? Check out our help page.