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Red Wings-Predators quick take: Wings, you’ve got some serious-ass problems

My favorite TV show of all time, the Liam Lynch sock puppet spectacular that was Sifl n Olly, had a fake infomercial skit, and the tagline for Precious Roy’s cheap product of the night was, “Well, you know the problems I’ve had with X” by Sifl, answered with, “Yeah, you’ve got some serious-ass X problems!” from Olly.

The Detroit Red Wings ended a lost month’s worth of baffling March losses by allowing the Nashville Predators to walk into Joe Louis Arena and emerge with a 4-1 victory and “home-ice advantage”

1st-place status

in the Central Division for a simple reason:

The Predators, who can pull 3 points ahead of Detroit if they defeat the Blackhawks tomorrow (and Chicago can catch Detroit if they win tomorrow, too), managed to get traffic to the front of the Wings’ net and score “easy,” somewhat unearned goals on Jimmy Howard because the Wings’ otherwise sterling netminder could not see the pucks he was facing until it was too late, Radulov’s 3-0 goal included.

At the other end of the ice, Team Identity Crisis fired oodles of single, unobstructed shots and generally un-retrieved pucks upon a goaltender who almost always stops the first shot if he can see it, and stops many that he can’t if you don’t get traffic in front of him for tipped or screened opportunities and/or secondary and tertiary scoring opportunities from retrieved pucks that catch a big but deep-crease-positioned goalie moving side to side and exposing gaping holes in that 6’5” frame (see Jiri Hudler’s 3-1 goal).

The Wings have a tendency to make good goalies look great and great goalies look like legends, and if there is a mythology surrounding Pekka Rinne, the Wings seem to be well on their way to making Rinne into a rich man’s Dwayne Roloson.

Maybe the Wings are just in a transition year, maybe they were just so shaken up by their injuries and the snowball effect of losing in March, maybe they were unprepared to match their competitors’ desire to beat their archrival, or maybe the Wings just didn’t have the opportunity to be built to beat one team, and can’t match the work ethic, effort, intensity or determination of a team that believes it will only have “arrived” if it tears the poster boy right off the wall.

In any case, the Red Wings didn’t even engage the Predators until the last minute of the 1st period, they were “too cute” and skated too wide and too seldomly in on Rinne with any of the speed or snarl necessary to gain the swagger high ground that Detroit has failed to reach and then flailed like a paper tiger when scored against on an incredibly consistent basis since the last week of February.

Where do the Wings go from here, aside from rooting for the Predators’ opposition?

And after a performance like this, what are the Wings’ chances of salvaging a playoff run as opposed to a “transition year” in April?

I don’t know. All I know is that despite superb coaching, wonderful leadership and all the personnel necessary to get the job done, this team has some serious-ass problems, and they need to get fixed in a hurry.

It’s more than time for Mike Babcock and Nicklas Lidstrom to tell the players to look themselves in the face and decide if they have the desire necessary to salvage their regular season…

Or whether they possess the intensity, attention to detail, effort, determination, work ethic and plain old pride inside themselves to go anywhere other than the golf course (and the managerial tweaking board) after a one-and-done playoff season.

Somebody, call Precious Roy and get the Predator cripplers…Place an order under the name, “One pissed-off Nicklas Lidstrom.”

FTR: Not quite ready to return from my depression issues, but I figured that on a night like this, an expert in the field should weigh in. As an existentialist, I’m also really tired of the Wings wondering about their identity and the nature of their existence on the ice, too—they need to shut the f*** up and play like themselves again. There’s a time to shut up and back up one’s words with actions, or to just act, period, and the Wings haven’t been willing or able to do so since February 19th.

Statistics:

Shots 32-27 Detroit overall. Detroit was out-shot 9-7 in the 1st, out-shot Nashville 17-8 in the 2nd and were out-shot 10-8 in the 3rd.

Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced; Pekka Rinne stopped 31 of 32.

The 3 stars, per Michigan Talk Radio’s Rich Kincaide, were Zetterberg, Sergei Kostitsyn and Pekka Rinne.

The Wings’ goal: Hudler (24) from Zetterberg (46) and Ericsson (10).

Faceoffs 36-27 Detroit (57% won by Detroit);

Blocked shots 14-9 Nashville;

Missed shots 15-11 Detroit—total attempts 61-47 Detroit, with Detroit firing 29 shots wide or into Predators players (and 32 on Rinne);

Hits 16-14 Nashville;

Giveaways 7-7;

Takeaways 7-6 Nashville.

The Wings finished at a collective -16, with Lidstrom and Holmstrom of all people finishing at -3 and Nyquist, White, Stuart and Emmerton finishing at -2…And every wing but Holmstrom had at least 1 shot.

 

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WestWing's avatar

A transition year? Transitioning into what?

If it were truly a transition year, we’d se more Brendan Smith and Tomas Tatar with the Wings, and Nyquist would get more than a quarter of the season.

The truth is, in the business these guys are in, every year is a transition year to some or another extent.  It’s easy to become myopic and forget that every team faces new and different challenges every year.  Some have met the challenges (such as overcoming injuries and dealing with change) and flourished in the face of them while some have not.  At this point, I’m afraid we would have to put the Red Wings’ organization in the camp of those who have not met their particular challenges.  It may be unfair and it may be harsh, but success or failure in this business are ultimately the sole criteria.

The argument that the team’s shortcomings this season are solely attributable to this being a year of transition would be much stronger had the overall malaise not been quite so evident for the past three seasons.  I’m talking about not just games, but also long stretches of games over the past three seasons wherein post-game catch phrases such as “starting on time” and “attention to detail” have become ingrained in our lexicon by virtue of being the pre-programmed organizational response to any number of losses that essentially took the same form—poor starts, lack of focus for the first forty minutes, followed by a fast furious third period that more often than not comes up a goal or two short.  We’ve seen this same script played out over and over again and before this season Draper, Osgood and Rafalski were all a part of the mix.  I bring this up merely to point out that the frustration a lot of us have is precisely because it’s NOT a recent development, but rather a long term trend.

To suggest that the organizational approach to this season is one of rebuilding seems much less an apologist’s position to me and more of a stinging indictment quite frankly.  I mean, let’s think about this for a second.  You’ve got arguably the greatest defenseman to ever play the game in what stands to be quite possibly his final season, along with the best two-way forward in the world in the prime of his career.  This would seem to be one of those “window of opportunity” moments in life wherein you’re either “all in” or you’re not.  And before anyone suggest that they would have been “mortgaging the future” by going all in to win right now, I would counter with the argument that I believe it’s not a simple either/or argument and that there are intelligent ways to make moves in the present to make your team stronger today without throwing the future to the four winds.

Let me point out a few salient facts.  First, by sheer numbers we know that given how difficult it is for players to advance in the Wings’ organization, we will eventually lose some of those who were deemed “untouchable” to the waiver wire.  Second, we don’t know how much longer this window of opportunity will be open.  How much longer will Nick play? And beyond that even, assume he does come back for another year, how long will he still be the Nick Lidstrom we’ve watched for all these years?  Given all of that, the real question was never one of whether or not it would be a gamble to make a bold move involving prospects or a roster player (all trades are essentially a bet anyway), but the real question should have been, is this the right time to take a gamble? The answer to that seems strikingly clear to many of us.  With the talent on the current roster, they just always seem so tantalizingly close to being a truly dominant team—one or two key players away perhaps—and it seems like they’ve been in this same position for so long now that it’s frustrating as hell to watch.  Because for all the talent we see, it’s also apparent to many of us that something, be it chemistry or just the lack of another strong, skilled forward,  just isn’t quite right with this team, and it hasn’t been for going on three years now.

Maybe those of us who sense complacency are seeing something that isn’t there.  Or maybe we’ve seen it happen in business, or in other walks of life a few times and just recognize all the earmarks of it when we see it.  I’m still convinced that they have enough talent to contend, but I’m equally convinced that more could have been done to make this current team a legitimate favorite as opposed to a darkhorse, which is where the betting man who lurks in my soul currently ranks them.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 03/31/12 at 04:54 PM ET

Avatar

Maybe those of us who sense complacency are seeing something that isn’t there.

This!
I don’t understand this complacency argument at all and do not agree with it. I think my beloved RW are quite opposite. They have been OVER-achievers for a long, long time (since the lockout to be exact) and have finally fallen to earth.
Putting on a Winged Wheel jersey miraculously transformed many of them into much better players than they really are. But I am afraid (and how I want to be totally wrong), it has just stricken midnight.

Posted by Alex on 03/31/12 at 05:18 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 03/31/12 at 03:54 PM ET

Whoa. This.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 03/31/12 at 05:23 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 03/31/12 at 03:54 PM ET

Well-reasoned and well-put.

I would save this word-for-word and repost it if the Wings get eliminated from the playoffs (which, let’s face it, looks like it’s going to happen before the finals).

Honestly, even if the part about gambling turns out wrong and the Wings do win the gamble and win the Cup, there wouldn’t be a lot of rewriting necessary.  Don’t get me wrong, if the Wings win the cup, I’ll spend all summer bouncing off the walls and enjoying the hell out of the accomplishment, but there absolutely would be a part of me that would not be happy about what this year’s Wings winning the cup would say about hockey.

... it’s pretty much the same thing if one of those idiot shitbricked obstruction-based teams wins the cup… it sucks to see something I don’t particularly like to watch rewarded with a cup, whether that be a Red Wings team which doesn’t consistently start on time or another team which relies on playing ugly and boring hockey to win most of their games.  The problem is that there’s really only one team in the league that’s consistently playing hockey “The Red Wings” way and I’d sooner stab myself in the balls with an electrified darning needle than be happy about them winning the cup.

Because we all know where the starting on time issue comes from. If we’re going to lean on the crutch of “The Wings aren’t old, they’re experienced”, then you can’t chalk up play which looks unfocused and out-of-sync as pitfalls of the inexperienced. Colorado has kids who don’t put it together consistently; Detroit doesn’t have that excuse.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/31/12 at 05:38 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 03/31/12 at 03:54 PM ET

Brilliant, articulate, and spot-on.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 03/31/12 at 06:38 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Ian White should be a healthy scratch Sunday. He has played like a dumb rookie that just got off the bus instead of the veteran NHLer he is and is playing with no passion and minimal effort defensively or offensively.
Quincey healthy scratch for Preds game a good message sent to him by Babs since he’s been disappointing lately too.
Honestly the Preds are a much better team then have been in years past so avoiding them in round 1 would be a good thing.
Red Wings have to win on the road anyway if they want to get back to the Final so this veteran team better get it’s collective heads out of their arses come playoff start.
Bring on Kings or Stars or Sharks or Coyotes in round 1 I say. They have to travel too back to The Joe and I know the Wings have a better chance of beating those teams then beating Rinne in round 1 this year.

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 03/31/12 at 09:39 PM ET

hockeychic's avatar

I am still thinking about last night’s game.  I want to believe in this team, I love them so dearly but last night made me sad.

What I saw was Nashville digging for every puck, diving to block shots, making the effort and the Wings just looked out of sync…not enough fire, not enough competitiveness, just not enough.  With the game being as important as it was, it was a disappointing effort.  Yes, that’s happened a lot this season and I know the real games that matter start in April but I just wanted more.

Parity is a b*tch.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 03/31/12 at 11:59 PM ET

Avatar

Actually the big performance slide began when the trade deadline expired. Not sure if that was complacency setting in or disgust that nothing was done to add personnel to help the cause.
The coaching staff’s inability to correct the power play for an entire season is testament to the player deaf ear being turned to the new coaches. Are their retired Wings who can fill these spots rather than boy wonders from out of the organization?
I really do not expect much to happen this summer unless Lidstrom actually does leave. Then Holland may have to do something. Otherwise “we like our team as is” will prevail and another round of passing skaters, defensive forwards (like Sheahan) will be brought in to shore up the leaky dyke.Smith will come in to replace California Dreamer. Tatar, Andersson, Jurco, Pulkinnen will all continue to wallow in the catacombs - not quite ready and receiving little hope of change - until we lose them on waivers ala Quincey Part1, Ritola and Leino’s forced trade for a bag of Norwegian Sardines. The team nucleus will remain the same because Holland does not have the cashews to pull the big magic string!
So ... it will be more of the same while the other franchises continue to improve.

Posted by Edd from Wauseon, OH on 04/06/12 at 02:54 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.