The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/23/11 at 02:07 AM ET
added 12:33am, Paul here, relaying a message from George stating he is having internet issues and may not be able to get to the recap in the morning. Thanks.
Yes, the Detroit Red Wings can suggest that they left Calgary, where they completed a slate of three games in four nights, four in six, five in eight and and six in ten, all involving travel, with positives to grow upon, especially given the fact that they arrived in Calgary very late after a draining 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks the previous night…
But as the Wings head into the Christmas break, their 3-2 loss to Calgary was both a case of too little, too late, a case of sticking to the same tired old, “Let’s not show up, give up a 2-goal lead, give up a 3-goal lead after a controversial play and then show up in the third period and expend way too much energy while not getting enough done” script, and, perhaps most worrisome given our slow but steady progression toward the New Year, an exhibition of the same systemic and confidence-based flaws which have dogged a team in transition throughout a season which finds them still scrambling for position in the middle of the Western Conference—which is somewhere the Wings don’t want to be two or three months from Christmas.
Did the Wings’ fast and furious third period comeback—and it was furious and downright remarkable—atone for the fact that, yet again, their start was Manitoba flat, their special teams stank and they left their goaltender to the wolves, especially given the fact that they were mentally and physically fatigued like nobody’s business?
But this team’s lack of self-confidence, poise, focus, effort, intensity, timeliness, attention to detail and plain old attentiveness over 60 minutes of play are baffling and concerning.
When the Wings are “on,” it’s as if no one can stop them but themselves, but when they’re “off” or plain old “absent” and mailing it in, all the Wings’ depth, the progress of their young players, the steps taken forward by their new leaders in Kronwall and Franzen, new addition in Ian White, better systems play and anything else you want to add into the equation yields the same old scary picture we saw in early November: players looking lost and/or cheating toward offense, to the expense of a few goals against, while Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, whoever’s playing goal and, depending on how heavily the “A’s” are weighing upon them, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk try their damnedest to carry the rest of the team
I don’t know what it’s going to take for the Wings to overcome themselves, or believe in themselves enough to overcome their self-inflicted wounds and plain old brain farts, but two balls-to-the-wall comeback attempts included, the Wings are flying home having taken two of a possible six points on a road where they’re now two games below .500 (again), but we’re at the point of the season where, despite the team’s theoretically silly level of depth up front (see: Patrick Eaves, Jan Mursak, Fabian Brunnstrom, Chris Conner) and on defense (see: Mike Commodore, Brendan Smith), the Wings look like a team that needs to import another new face to add to Ian White’s moxie and Ty Conklin’s gregarious “glue guy” personality.
The bottom line right now is that the Wings continue to not be able to get the job done in terms of regaining much-needed ground in the Western Conference, and as hard as they’re trying to paddle their legs underwater, they’re playing far too inefficient and regrettably too predictably futile hockey on a far too regular basis.
Sure, there’s over half a season’s worth of growth left, but especially when the Wings keep digging 2-0 holes and continue to look so downright scared of themselves, never mind their opponents, when their confidence disappears and they’re playing hockey like a mite team afraid of the puck…
It’s incredibly frustrating to watch the Wings continue to regularly and, again, utterly predictably blow the kinds of games that teams who’ve learned their lessons from playoff defeats past tend to win.
This Wings team is unable or unwilling to figure themselves out, and going into Christmas, that yields a bitter taste and an earned lump of coal in every player (and coach’s) hockey socks, because the Wings are, at present, a very middling middle-of-the-pack team that displays nothing more than flashes of their previous powerhouse status…And it’s their own damn fault for not choosing to take easier roads to success. This team seems to be intent upon taking a beating as it learns from the hockey school of hard knocks, and all that bumping and grinding will take a toll come April.
Fa la la.
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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.