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….
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.
TheGoodPoint.com got an exclusive interview with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment President and CEO Richard Peddie.
Surprisingly, Peddie says he’d rather be stuck in a room with Leafs fans than with school teachers, “because they’re all passionate and they’d come with their faces painted.”
There has been a lot of discussion on who is leading the Calder and Art Ross races, but there is another race that NHL fans should be looking at: the leader for NHL’s Cy Young award. The leader right now has to be has to be Thomas Vanek with an 18-5 record (the exact record that Tim Lincecum finished with after winning his Cy Young award this past season). However, he is followed close behind by Jeff Carter, who got his 17th and 18th goals (wins) last night, but also got an assist to bump up his total of 7. Whoever can reach the 40 mark without getting 20 assists will be saying “woo hoo!” in no time. My bet is on Vanek, whose game is more in front of the net; while Carter is a center and handles the puck more, and should see his assist total come up a little bit more. Despite their great starts towards the NHL’s Cy Young award, I’m not too sure if either will match Marek Svatos’ ratio of 26:11 last season. Incredibly, through 23 games this season, Svatos has more assists than goals (4-7)!
Sean Avery just landed in Calgary and already he is stirring the pot:
“I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada,” Avery told the media. “I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don’t know what that’s about. Enjoy the game tonight.”
Ouch. What a burn. Obviously directed at Dion Phaneuf who is now going out with Elisha Cuthbert, Avery’s ex-girlfriend.
Should be a good game tonight.
During Saturday’s press conference to the Toronto media, Brian Burke all but confirmed that the Leafs are officially out of the Sundin sweepstakes. “I don’t think we fit his profile as a team,” said Burke. He referred to the 2-year $20 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks, putting the emphasis on the fact that Sundin’s comeback is not about money, but about playing for a contender.
Therefore, if Burke is not looking to add Sundin to his team, this means he will likely try to unload some veterans.
Look for Burke to start moving players in January as he will study his team in the next few weeks to see which players fit his style of players: physical, gritty, tough, hardworker, reliable defensively, etc.
Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph is having a tough season, posting a 3.95 GAA and a woeful .861 save percentage. He hasn’t won any game yet for the Leafs. The veteran goaltender might be asked to hang his skates to give some seasoning to Justin Pogge, the Leafs’ goaltender of the future.
Henrik Lundqvist has now played 23 games without a shutout. By this time last year, he had 4. So what’s the deal? Despite his lack of shutouts, I believe he is playing better hockey this year than last. He is making more saves, handling the puck better and waiting out players’ moves in the shootout. He is still top 10 in the league in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage, even with his 5 goals against vs Vancouver and 3 quick ones yesterday vs the Panthers. Meanwhile, Craig Anderson, backup goalie for the Panthers got his second shut out of the season… Take that Lundy.
Fantastically, Lundqvist‘s ability to keep the Rangers in the game is essential to get those goalie wins. Even though he isn’t shutting teams out, he is only letting it a limited amount of goals per game. He is a must start in every situation and don’t let his recent slide discourage you from playing him. Lundqvist faces a tough test this Thursday in Montreal, should be an interesting match up barring a melt down from either goalie.
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.