The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/11/13 at 04:47 AM ET
My overriding thought regarding the Red Wings' 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, at least when I was trying to curl up in bed until my, "Be a responsible adult with a bad virus and write up a wrap-up, dammit" voice in my head won out, had little to do with the Wings' litany of 3rd-period collapses, their 10 straight shootout defeats, Jimmy Howard's up-and-down performances or my crazy theory about the Wings adding a #3 defenseman (and I like Alex Edler of Vancouver, who may only be tradeable because his $5 million cap hit belies $6 million in total compensation this season and then
$8.5, $12, $12, $12 and $8.5 million $4.25 million, $6.25 million, $9 million, $9 million, $6 million and $4.25 million in total-compensation investments over the balance of his deal).
It was this: Holy shit, we're 2 months and 11 days into the season, and 15-9-and-8 equals the Red Wings having played 32 games already, and when the Winter Classic takes place three weeks from today, the Wings will be playing in game 42.
The team that escaped to Tampa Bay like it was escaping a bad smell (and the Wings' slate of 2-out-of-3 against the Lightning on Thursday and Sunday, interrupted by a Saturday game in Pittsburgh, will prove itself to be a stiff task as the 17-10-and-2 Bolts dropped a 6-5 shootout decision to Washington on Tuesday) may not be engaged in a 48-games-in-99-nights demolition derby...
But the number of injuries the Wings have racked up over the course of this still-young season sure feels like last year already (see: Henrik Zetterberg taking part in the trip despite perhaps a Winter Classic-ish return timeline from his herniated disc, Danny DeKeyser returning anywhere from the 17th-to-28th from his shoulder injury, per Ansar Khan, Darren Helm's status as, "A week to ten days" from returning from his shoulder injury, Pavel Datsyuk returning from a concussion, injuries to Jonas Gustavsson, Brendan Smith, Jimmy Howard, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, Todd Bertuzzi, a few guys I'm forgetting and Brian Lashoff playing through some sort of hip issue on Tuesday)...
And the Wings are perhaps just as erratic in terms of their overall play, their inability to hold 2-goal leads, especially going into the 3rd period, their continued inability to win shootouts, the lack of personnel continuity, up-and-down goaltending, up-and-down scoring (sometimes the team can't break the 2-goal mark to save their lives) and up-and-down special teams play yielding a team that's won 46.875% of its games--but has earned at least a point 71.875% of the time.
Are the Wings playing down to their level of competition? You bet. Are the Wings lucky as lucky can be that they've moved to an Eastern Conference where they sit fourth in the conference and third in the Atlantic Division? Hell yes.
From a fan's perspective--and please remember that I only do this because, despite my attempts to be professional, I cheer for this team just as hard as you do, and take as much joy from every win and lament every loss as much as you do, but just try to keep some of that to myself--is this team innervating, frustrating, infuriating and incredibly disappointing to watch on an all-too-regular basis?
You *#$%@& bet.
The fact that the Wings looked like absolute world-beaters during their 4-game winning streak in late October and their 5-game winning streak at the end of November makes dropping f-bombs when the Wings drop those 2-goal leads and earn "results" 25% of the damn time that much more painful...
But we knew that it was going to have a herky-jerky ride as it worked out the post-Lidstrom kinks over the course of a full season, and 39% of the way into the campaign, I really despise saying this, but absent maybe 3 more wins, I this is about where I expected the Wings to be, and about what I thought they'd look like--inconsistent with much more promise to tap into on a much more regular basis.
At times, the Wings look like a borderline contending team, despite their cap issues and injuries requiring the team to ice a not-necessarily-the-best-available-roster roster some nights, and on other occasions, and more often than not, the Wings look like a team whose foundation, or at least the parts that hold up the foundation, are shaky.
Mostly, the Wings leave too many points on the table, and on Tuesday night, the Panthers were all too happy to steal two, as Tim, "Oh, Daniel Cleary has obstructed me, I shall fall!" Thomas told the Miami Herald's George Richards:
It was Florida’s second win over Detroit in four days after leaving the Motor City victorious Saturday for just the third time in franchise history. Florida had only beaten the Red Wings once since moving into its Sunrise arena in 1998 prior to Tuesday.
“I bet you they’re pretty surprised too,” goalie Tim Thomas, who hails from Flint, Mich., said with a smirk. “I think we played better Saturday than we did overall [Tuesday]. But once we got going and put the pressure on them in the third, it was pretty fun to see them come back like them in front of you.”
Detroit took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but despite their record, the Panthers have founds points against others after trailing by that same deficit in the past.
On Tuesday, Dmitry Kulikov got things going for Florida when his 55-foot shot from inside the blue line clipped teammate Sean Bergenheim and slipped past goalie Jimmy Howard five minutes into the period.
Florida kept coming at Howard — who didn’t play Saturday — and got its equalizer with 5:22 remaining when Nick Bjugstad charged in and roofed a shot past Howard. Bjugstad went around All-World forward Pavel Datsyuk on his way to the net.
“That’s a world-class goal,” Florida coach Peter Horachek said. “That’s a big-time play for Bjugstad. He should get that framed.”
Thomas told Richards that he didn't mind the "run support," either...
In the shootout, Aleksander Barkov gave Florida a lead with a sweet move on Howard with Brad Boyes -- one of the best shootout specialists in the game -- ending it in Round 3. Boyes was benched Sunday in Chicago.
"It's nice when the shooters in front of you hit two of three,'' said Thomas, who made 24 saves. "It's makes my job a lot easier.''
And while the Panthers' rink crew's work left something to be desired in terms of their fit and finish, Boyes pulled a helluva fake on Howard for the gamer, getting Howard to bite on a glove-side shot before simply sweeping the puck past Howard's stick and into the bottom of the net on the opposite side. Boyes was all too happy to redeem himself, as the told the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov:
"I've got to do something to go out there and stay,'' said Boyes, who is the active leading shootout king with 35, including 11 game-deciding goals. "I was thinking score. I was surprised Pavel Datsyuk didn't shoot. He's the shootout king for me.''
So were Wings fans.
Actually, Datsyuk, who had a goal and an assist in his first game back after missing the previous seven with a concussion, is tied for third among active shootout leaders with 33.
The Panthers are now 3-4 in shootouts, while the Red Wings, who lead the NHL with overtime losses (1-8), are now 0-5 in shootouts.
While Boyes beat Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with a simple wrister, he was unable to match the skill and flair of rookie center Aleksander Barkov's twirling, one-handed forehand that got the fans on their feet. Panthers goalie Tim Thomas, who said he's 1 for 2 against Barkov on that move in practice, was enjoying the view.
"I bet they're pretty surprised,'' Thomas said of beating the Red Wings again for Florida's third win in its last four games. "I got Barkov the first time because he didn't sell it as much as he could, but the second time he did it so well there's almost nothing you can do but bite on it.''
The Wings couldn't earn any breaks, however, Datsyuk included:
Then with 5:22 remaining, rookie center Bjugstad abused Datsyuk on the side boards, wheeled away from him and deposited a forehand on the short side for the tying tally. Defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Dylan Olsen received assists.
The Red Wings nearly won it two minutes into overtime when defenseman Niklas Kronwall's long slapper caught iron. With 37 seconds left, Barkov's rebound on the doorstep was smothered by Howard to send it to a shootout.
If the Panthers displayed anything that the Wings did not on Tuesday, they displayed dogged confidence in their grinding game and their individual and collective abilities to claw themselves back into the game (no pun intended), as Nick Bjugstad told NHL.com's Alain Poupart:
"Beating them twice in a short period is pretty nice," said Panthers center Nick Bjugstad, who tied the game with 5:32 left in regulation with a spectacular individual move. "They've got a lot of good players, a lot of experienced players. So I think it says a lot about the guys in the locker room. We've got some good leadership going on right now. Hopefully we can keep that going."
Boyes ended the game in the second half of the third round with a wrist shot through Jimmy Howard's legs. Tomas Tatar scored for Detroit in the shootout. Boyes leads all active players with 35 career shootout goals and is 4-for-5 this season.
Bjugstad then tied the game at 14:38 with a spectacular individual effort that began when he beat Datsyuk along the boards. Bjugstad eventually skated to the side of the net before beating Howard with a high shot to the short side.
"It felt pretty good," Bjugstad said. "I knew he was kind of on my side. I put forth an extra effort because I know he's a good player. He's strong on the puck, he's good defensively obviously. It was nice, a little confidence-builder there to be able to do that. I watched him growing up quite a bit, watched a lot of highlights on YouTube of him."
Datsyuk is a three-time winner of the Selke Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward in the NHL and has been a finalist six times, which made Bjugstad's goal even more impressive.
"That's a world-class goal," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said. "He comes out of the corner with Datsyuk and comes and takes it to the net. He's one of the best players in the League for a reason. That's a big-time play for Bjugstad. He should get that framed."
FloridaPanthers.com's Glenn Odebralski offered a quote of note...
"We're a strong third period team. Obviously we come back in a lot of games. The main thing is to work on starting off early and getting a lead on teams but we came back and it says a lot about the guys in the locker room."- Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad.
As well as some significant figures:
0. Detroit had a great chance to win it in overtime as Nickas Kronwall blasted a shot off the cross bar but the Red Wings actually didn't finish with a shot on goal in the overtime session.
3. Florida was whistled for four penalties in the game, three of them came in the first period alone and three of the four were blown for tripping.
5. The Panthers used a couple of fives to get back in the game. Sean Bergenheim scored at the five minute mark of the third period while Nick Bjugstad netted his fifth of the season to tie the game.
34. Trailing by two entering the third, it was the Panthers who added to their third period total with two more as Bergenheim and Bjugstad potted goals. The two gave them 34 third period goals on the season, tied for third most in the NHL.
The Wings must be pretty close to having allowed the most goals while leading...
90. The Panthers honored former alternate captain and franchise leader in games played and assists Stephen Weiss during the first tv timeout of the game. Now wearing No. 90 in Detroit, Weiss finished with a shot on goal on 15:56 of ice time.
He was also -1, and I sure as hell hope that now that he's got the whole, "Return game" out of his system, he can FINALLY RELAX and play hockey.
We'll allow the AP's recap to serve as our pivot point (as usual) between the Panthers and Red Wings' perspectives (as usual):
Detroit lost for the sixth time this season when leading after two periods. The Red Wings are 0-5 in shootouts.
"I tried some different guys. We didn't get it done," coach Mike Babcock said. "We got one point, we wanted two; we came up one short."
Florida scored twice in the third to tie the game. Bjugstad evened it at 2 when he put the puck over Howard's shoulder with 5:22 left in regulation. The Panthers cut it to 2-1 on a goal by Bergenheim exactly 5 minutes into the period. Dmitry Kulikov bounced a shot from the point that Bergenheim touched on the way to the net.
"All it comes down to is, we needed to go in the third period and score early, get the momentum," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "It's about winning 60 minutes, it's not about winning the first or the second."
Yes, the Red Wings don't seem to get that. It's been a while since the Wings strung together a stretch of consistent 60-minute effor...Oh, wait, that was late November.
The team was at least aware of the goof-up...
"You're up two goals on the road, you're in a good situation, and being up two, after two, we would have taken that," Howard said. "But we've got to either find a way to score the next one or have the ability to shut them down."
Sort of? The Wings readily admitted that their shootout results have them flummoxed, as they told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
“I have no idea what to say on the shootouts,” said goalie Jimmy Howard (6-8-7), who stopped 25 shots. “They are just not being kind to us right now. It’s not only myself, but all of us.”
Coach Mike Babcock juggled his shootout lineup, replacing Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi with Tomas Tatar (who scored the lone shootout goal) and Gustav Nyquist, with Daniel Alfredsson leading off. But, ultimately, the change didn’t result in a victory.
“Obviously you want to leave here with two points and feel good about yourself,” Babcock said. “You win the shootout and you feel good. You don’t win the shootout and you have answer questions you guys are asking. We didn’t finish. You want to finish the game and we didn’t. They were on their toes and came after us.”
But Jonathan Ericsson seemed puzzled as to how the Wings wound up with their wheels above their heads:
"We felt we had the game under control and in the third, I don’t know what happened,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “I have no explanation except we were terrible out there. Not executing out of our zone and making it hard on ourselves and inviting them back into the game again.”
Babcock was happy with Jimmy Howard's effort...
“Jimmy played good,” Babcock said. “They got a tip and on the second one, (Bjugstad) walked out of the corner. We have to look after that. I’m going back to Gus (in Tampa). That was my plan.”
Howard felt good about his performance but was disappointed it didn’t result in two points in the standings.
“You want to get results,” Howard said. “You’re up two goals in the third period on the road, you’re in a good situation. We would have taken that. But at the same time we have to either find a way to score the next one or have the ability to shut them down.”
But he was not happy with his team's overall effort, as he told MLive's Ansar Khan:
“In the end you got to play 60 minutes, not 40 minutes, and we weren’t good enough in the third period to have success,” Babcock said.
Florida tied it at 2-2 with 5:22 to play on a brilliant effort by Nick Bjugstad. He won a battle for the puck with Datsyuk along the boards and took it strong to the net, whipping it past Howard.
Sean Bergenheim got Florida on the scoreboard at 5:00 of the third. He tipped in a wrist shot from the point by Dmitry Kulikov.
“I thought I did a pretty good job,” Howard said. “The first one was a good deflection. The second one, you can say it was a little bit of a misread on my part. But when you’re reading (the play), he’s on his forehand and he’s got one of the best takeaway guys on the ice on his hip and you think he’s going to try to drag you across and take a better angle but you got to give Bjugstad credit. He roofed it there fast and put it up under the bar.”
I also can't deny that these stats are...scary:
Weiss, who spent his first 11 seasons in Florida, received a nice ovation from the crowd during a stoppage in play in the first period. The Panthers showed a brief video tribute and welcomed him back. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in games (594).
Weiss, however, continues to struggle. He has gone 20 games without a goal, one short of his career high from his rookie season of 2002-03. He has only four points (two goals, two assists) in 26 games.
"We had the game under control," Jonathan Ericsson said. "In the third, I don't know what happened. We were terrible out there, we weren't executing. We were making it hard on ourselves and easy on them."
"I thought we skated and did lots of good things," Babcock said. "I don't know if we got cautious in the third, it sure wasn't out intent. They got a good tip on the first one. We didn't like to give up the second one. Anytime you're ahead, you want to be able to finish the game. We didn't. They were on their toes and coming after us."
The Panthers' resolve led them to what was just their 10th victory of the season. Bertuzzi had scored on a power play and Datsyuk had converted a tape-to-tape pass from Ericsson, but 5 minutes into the third period, Bergenheim got a piece of Dmitry Kulikov's shot, and then Bjugstad tied the game -- and the Wings didn't respond.
And Howard delivered the bottom line:
"This is the NHL, where points matter every single night," Howard said. "You've got to be ready to come every single night with your 'A' game and you've got to find a way. You've just got to find a way out there to get points."
Points, with the emphasis on the plural, not the singular.
Highlights: I'm getting a little tired of NHL.com's laziness in the video department. Even the Red Wings website's highlight clip is narrated by the Panthers' announcers, and they're only issuing one-feed highlights for both teams' websites these days:
Post-game: Here was the Panthers' tribute to Stephen Weiss. He might want to watch this to remember what scoring looked like:
And the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a set of post-game comments from Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard:
Photos: The Free Press posted a 24-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 17-image gallery;
The Windsor Star posted 6 big images from the game;
The Miami Herald posted an 8-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 46-image gallery;
Shots 27-26 Florida overall. Detroit out-shot Florida 10-8 in the 1st but was out-shot 10-9 in the 2nd, the teams tied 7-7 in the 3rd and the Panthers out-shot Detroit 2-0 in OT.
Special teams: Detroit went 1-for-4 in 7:07 of PP time; the Panthers went 0-for-3 in 6:00.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 27 shots; Tim Thomas stopped 24 of 26.
The Panthers picked the 3 stars, and they picked Tim Thomas, Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Bjugstad.
The Wings' goals: Bertuzzi (6) from Datsyuk (12) and Franzen (12), PPG;
Datsyuk (13) from Ericsson (7) and Franzen (13).
Faceoffs 32-30 Florida (Detroit won 48%);
Blocked shots 18-13 Florida;
Missed shots 11-10 Florida (total attempts 51-44 Florida);
Hits 28-17 Florida;
Giveaways 4-3 Detroit;
Takeaways supposedly 18-2 Florida.
Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 14-and-7 (67%); Weiss went 7-and-10 (41%); Andersson went 5-and-9 (36%); Emmerton went 3-and-3 (50%); Franzen won his only faceoff; Abdelkader, Alfredsson and Tatar all lost their only faceoffs.
Shots: Nyquist led the team with 5 shots; Datsyuk had 4; Tatar, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 3; Emmerton had 2; Smith, Kindl, Alfredsson, Miller, Ericsson and Weiss had 1.
Blocked attempts: Nyquist supposedly hit Panthers players 4 times; Franzen had 3 attempts blocked; Smith and Emmerton had 2 attempts blocked; Abdelkader, Datsyuk, Tatar, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Cleary and Weiss had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Smith, Kindl, Alfredsson, Datsyuk, Miller, Tatar, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Abdelkader led the Wings with 4; Miller, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 3; Quincey had 2; Smith and Tatar had 1.
Giveaways: Lashoff, Ericsson, Kronwall and Howard had 1.
Takeaways: Datsyuk and Ericsson had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Alfredsson blocked 3 Panthers shots; Smith, Kindl and Cleary blocked 2; Datsyuk, Emmerton, Quincey and Bertuzzi blocked 1.
Penalties taken: Tatar, Bertuzzi and Weiss took minor penalties.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -5. Smith, Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Quincey and Weiss finished at -1.
Points: Datsyuk had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Franzen had 2 assists; Bertuzzi had a goal; Ericsson had an assist.
Ice time: Kronwall led the team with 26:28 played; Ericsson played 24:14; Quincey played 23:07;
Alfredsson played 20:54; Datsyuk played 20:15; Smith played 20:08;
Franzen played 19:31; Abdelkader played 18:05; Kindl played 17:26;
Bertuzzi played 17:00; Weiss played 15:57; Nyquist played 15:40;
Andersson played 15:00; Tatar played 14:48; Cleary played 12:55;
Lashoff played 12:04; Miller played 11:59; Emmerton played 8:32.
Red Wings notebooks: So Stephen Weiss returned to Sunrise after leaving the team that drafted him in 1998 and employed him for 10 years, as the Miami Herald's George Richards noted...
During the first commercial break, the Panthers had a tribute video to Weiss with a number of his highlights with the organization. It started with video from Weiss being the fourth-overall pick of the 2001 draft -- held here in Sunrise.
Weiss was able to watch the team's tribute video from his spot on the ice as he came on for Detroit's power play.
A number of his new teammates stood by as a number of Weiss' highlights - including his first NHL goal in 2002 on his 19th birthday in his NHL debut - were shown on the new scoreboard.
Before the game, Weiss said he didn't really know where to go once inside the building as he dressed in the visiting locker room for the first time.
"It felt strange for sure,” Weiss said. “It certainly feels a little bit strange being on the other side.”
But Weiss's offensive struggles also "feel strange," as he told the Free Press's Helene St. James:
To Weiss’ credit, no one is more aware of how he’s underperformed. “I haven’t played to my potential and need to figure out the cause of that,” he said. “I think we’re starting to narrow that down. It’s getting to that time now where you have to stop worrying about systems and where you’re supposed to be on the ice, and just play. I’ve got to get it in my head to just play loose like I always have and I’ll be fine.
“It’s a different style and system we play here, there’s a lot of responsibility as a centerman, and sometimes you can get stuck in the mud out there trying to be too positional, and I think that’s been the case at times. The goal going forward is to scratch that mindset and go out and play and if you mess up, you mess up.”
Weiss looks a little too much like Valtteri Filppula did as a center--someone who was thinking far too much about his defensive responsibilities--thus far.
Weiss, 30, spent a decade playing for the Panthers before signing on for five years and $24.5 million with the Wings. In Florida, Weiss played in a system with far less emphasis on puck possession, for a team with far less tradition of winning. An adjustment period was expected, and wasn’t helped as Weiss missed six games with a pulled groin last month.
Coach Mike Babcock cautioned that Weiss “is putting way too much pressure on himself. He’s come to a new spot, hasn’t gone like he’d liked. How do you get your confidence back? Well, to me, just get to work and be mentally tough.
“I think the first thing to admit to yourself it hasn’t gone very good. He’s done those things. We feel he’s going to start playing better and better.”
As the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted, Henrik Zetterberg made a surprise appearance in Sunrise on Tuesday:
"I kind of missed the guys, been away from the team a bit, and I decided to come down and be with the guys," Zetterberg said.
Zetterberg has missed the last three games since being diagnosed with the herniated disc. He last played Dec. 1 in Ottawa. He's expected to stay off the ice a minimum of another week, but there is apparently progress.
"I'm feeling better, absolutely feeling better," Zetterberg said. "It looks like we're doing the right things, I'm taking the right steps."
But there's no timetable for a return back to the ice for light skating, never mind an actual game.
"No timetable, just have to see how I progress and how I kind of feel with each step," Zetterberg said. "I'm just starting to move around again and do some rehab stuff, and then we'll see what the next step is. Hopefully I can do something. Going a bit crazy here."
Of particular interest suddenly is Zetterberg's availability for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic against Toronto, exactly three weeks from tomorrow. Zetterberg, obviously, would like to be ready for that event.
"Obviously that's a big game but we have games before that, too," Zetterberg said.
In the alumni department, quite literally, Steve Yzerman sent the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness a text message regarding his participation in the Winter Classic Alumni Showdown...
“Looking forward to celebrating the history of the Red Wings with all my former colleagues as well as the faithful fans of Detroit,” Yzerman said in a text message. “It will be an enjoyable afternoon.”
The next question that needs to be answered is whether he’ll play in the game itself. When Yzerman and his Tampa Bay Lightning were in town on Dec. 9, he seemed very noncommittal on the whole event that will take place the day before the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.
“I haven’t given it really much thought,” Yzerman said at the time. “I’ve been pretty busy with our team, and watching a lot of hockey games for the Olympics, so I really haven’t looked that far ahead.”
He also said that he has only skated a few times since his 2006 retirement and has had no desire to skate since.
“I don’t even own a pair of skates,” Yzerman continued. “So, I may have to take up a collection.”
Yzerman’s last game in a Wings jersey was on the road in Edmonton, in Game 6 of the 2006 playoffs.
“They didn’t know at the time that was going to be his last game,” Chris Osgood said. “This gives them another opportunity. It’ll be big for the fans to get a chance to see him on the ice,” Osgood added. “It’s a good thing to have one of the greatest Red Wings in the game.”
Yzerman at least suggested to NHL.com's EJ Hradek that he'd be skating in the game.
Dallas Drake will be taking part in the game, too, and he spoke with Traverse City's 7&4 News's Harrison Beeby about the Wings on Tuesday evening:
Also of Red Wings-related note: Puck Daddy posted Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov's interview with Pavel Datsyuk, but I'm not going to try to translate it as it's...Strange. It leans very heavily upon the concept that Detroit's a ghost town, and while Slava Malamud does ask Datsyuk why Wings fans were booing on Saturday, and Datsyuk understandably responds that fans have every right to be upset that the Wings aren't winning at home given that they pay to watch the Wings play...
You've more or less read it in the Puck Daddy interview. He recovered from his concussion, he's no Ilya Bryzgalov, he's not focusing on the Olympics yet per se because he wants to play as hard as he can for the Wings but knows there will be enormous pressure, etc. etc.
In the power rankings department, SI's Allan Muir issued the following assessment of the state of the Wings on Tuesday evening...
18 Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 12 Three games in four nights is never easy, especially when travel is involved, but you had to hate hearing coach Mike Babcock blaming the schedule maker after the Wings lost to lowly Florida on Saturday. Fact is, Detroit was badly outworked—again--at the Joe, where the Wings have won just two of their last 13 games. (Last week: 1-2-0)
And ESPN's Frank Provenzano issued a slate of "moves" to "fix" Eastern Conference teams--in an Insider-only entry--and here's what he had to say about the Wings in what is essentially a power rankings-style list:
Detroit Red Wings
The problem: Detroit, which has been so good for so long, is getting old. The combined age of the Wings' top four scoring forwards (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson) is 141 years old.
The fix: There inevitably comes a point when an organization has to look in the mirror and recognize that it no longer fits into those skinny jeans. The Red Wings are the model NHL franchise, with 22 straight playoff appearances (their run includes a series win against the Winnipeg Jets before they moved to Phoenix). Moving to the weaker Eastern Conference gives the Wings a chance to keep this postseason streak alive, but they need to keep their focus on acquiring young talent and avoid the playoff-induced temptation of adding older, expensive veterans.
The Red Wings have never been anything but "old" for the vast majority of those 22 seasons, and it hasn't hurt the cause. The youth movement's been painful to watch over the past year, but it's also been very necessary, and the Wings are banking on their own prospects going forward--with a few veteran players remaining in key roles, as per usual.
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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.