The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/20/14 at 11:01 PM ET
Between the poop jokes when Jimmy Howard left the game with who-knows-what late in the 2nd period (the Wings are indeed suffering from a team-wide "flu bug" and some sort of stomach virus is in fact "going around" in Metro Detroit) and the number of Wings fans who hopped off the bandwagon over the course of Detroit's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday, I'm wondering how many fans are actually left after this game.
Were the Red Wings any good? In, pardon what I suppose everyone thinks is a pun, spurts. But the Red Wings kept on trying to force set plays on their one 5-on-3, despite the short periods of time when the refs called everything, the Blues really manhandled the Wings physically and out-sped them to pucks all night long, and due perhaps to a lack of a net-front presence (paging Ken Holland, don't wait for the deadline, go and grab Steve Ott or someone else whose butt sticks to goalies?), the Wings' offense is awful:
Minus a possibly injured Howard, Daniel Alfredsson (back), Joakim Andersson (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (???), Cory Emmerton (messed up pinky), Jonathan Ericsson (coming back Wednesday), Johan Franzen (concussion buddies forever!), Jonas Gustavsson (groin, back soon?) and Stephen Weiss, the Wings are "undermanned" to put it mildly...
But the Wings are so far gone in terms of the Wild Card race that even a relative optimist like me will state that one should never make a habit of trying to beat the odds, because the odds, statistically speaking, tend to win.
As such, in a very weird way, despite the personnel, despite valiant goaltending from their beleaguered netminder, and despite bad puck luck (the blues scored 2 goals in 1:10 to take a 3-1 lead they'd never surrender, at 1:01 and 2:21 of the 2nd period), bizarre refereeing (as you might imagine after the Wings got a break off the netting), despite the power play woes, and despite the fact that Gustav Nyquist getting off the schneid seemed to require the rest of the team to start squeezing its sticks too hard and to stop attacking Halak altogether, this loss was and is completely unacceptable.
That's really the truth at this point--the Wings' division opponents and possible playoff-spot-grabbing opponents (Columbus? Again?) are playing far too well for the Wings to continue stumbling.
The artificially lowered cap ensured that we would be watching the Red Wings take part in a two-year rebuilding process, and we all knew that the post-Lidstrom Wings would need much more than 48 games' worth of time to establish their new identity.
Saturday's scraps with LA were supposed to galvanize a team that came out against an even more physical game than the Kings with no physical impetus save Lue Glendening's increasingly acerbic play, however, and the Wings never managed to establish the hallmarks of their game regardless of personnel issues--puck possession, lots of shot attempts and butts in front of goalies.
The last part of the equation has been the most difficult for the Wings to establish on a nightly basis, and if Ken Holland is indeed going to wait until after the Olympics to make a real move to stablize the defense and/or add more offense, it would certainly appear that the Wings may want to waive Patrick Eaves to see if they can find someone else from Grand Rapids who can provide a more urgent physical and/or offensive spark, and in the interim?
We hope that Howard's only ill as, all of a sudden, the season's on the line when the vaunted Blackhawks come to town for a real, honest-to-goodness "rivalry night" game on Wendesday.
Assuming that you haven't already jumped off the bandwagon and want to see this team fail because you're too frustrated to put up with this frustrating team and want your anger to be vindicated. And that kind of mentality, well, that shit's spreading like nobody's business.
Especially given that, as of tonight, between the standings, the injured players, and the wretchedly moribund performance of the remaining Wiffins, the shit has officially hit the fan, and it really is officially okay for fans to hit the panic button.
The Red Wings need to remember that, regardless of their personnel, the expectations remain fixed upon earning a playoff spot every year, and in all honesty, the Wings have underachieved for so very long since their late-November flourish, especially at home...
That we fans deserve better for our time, energy, money and frustration.
But it's up to them to play better, not us, and if you want to step off the bandwagon on January 20th, that's up to you. Please don't make too big of a mess as you leap as I've attempted to pad the floors and walls as best as I was able to do.
This shit isn't gonna cut it, and I don't know what the personnel answers are, but I know what the results answers are, and the Detroit Red Wings have to be better than this from here on out, plain and simple:
Including the quality of the competition, including the injuries, including the breaks, blah blah blah blah blah, it's up to the Red Wings to decide whether they can in fact make the playoffs for the 24th year and 23rd season, or whether they'll be able to earn the devotion of their remaining fans along the way.
Tonight? The Red Wings stank, and I only wish that I could say that I was healthy enough to give the Wings' struggles full TMR attention, but I'm still on the IR, too (though I am slowly getting better).
Shots 39-23 St. Louis overall. Detroit was out-shot 18-7 in the 1st, 12-6 in the 2nd and the Wings actually out-shot St. Louis 10-9 in the 3rd.
Special teams: the Blues went 1-for-5 in 7:37 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-6 in 7:11 of PP time, including 0-for-1 in 1:27 of 5 on 3 time.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 22 of 25 shots and Petr Mrazek stopped 13 of 14 shots for the Red Wings; Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 of 23 shots for the Blues.
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness picked the 3 stars, and he picked Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirkr and Alex Steen.
The Red Wings' goal: Nyquist (6) from Zetterberg (24) and Sheahan (4), PPG.
Faceoffs 39-25 Detroit (Detroit won 61%);
Blocked shots 15-13 Detroit;
Missed shots 14-10 Detroit (total attempts 64-50 St. Louis, with the Wings firing 23 shots on Halak and 27 wide/blocked);
Hits 18-17 St. Louis;
Takeaways 6-5 St. Louis.
One last update: Here's the coach:
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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.