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That was predictable

With one more dress rehearsal before the playoffs begin, the Detroit Red Wings’ 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was most troubling not because of the Wings’ collective inability to keep the puck out of their own net, not because of their unwillingness to engage and match the competition, effort, urgency or attention to detail of their opponents or to contain Chicago’s superstars, and certainly not because of Jimmy Howard as he was essentially left out to dry by even Datsyuk and Lidstrom at times…

It was the fact that these kinds of multi-goal first period deficits and inattentive, almost disinterested efforts against any team that the Wings can give themselves an excuse for losing to over the last month-plus of the regular season…They’re predictable. Utterly and almost ridiculously predictable, especially at home and especially against potential playoff opponents.

It speaks poorly of everyone on the team from Mike Babcock on down that the Wings are less than a week away from the playoffs and boast an ugly 7-7-and-4 record since the beginning of March, have yet to get their defensive game, penalty-kill, power play, even strength scoring, offensive game, neutral zone play, etc. etc. back on track, and haven’t really stepped up their level of play since the middle of February.

More to come in the recap, obviously, but I think it’s necessary to press the “concern” button right now, because the Wings are, in the words of my father, “D***ing around” when it’s supposed to be time to round into playoff form.

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Comments

Tuba Guy's avatar

I couldn’t agree more.

Posted by Tuba Guy from Royal Oak, MI on 04/09/11 at 12:38 AM ET

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Funny—the way they’re playing, neither the Sharks nor the Wings appear to want to have anything to do with that No. 2 seed.

You just have to hope, if you’re a fan of one of these teams, that they can turn it on again come next week.  I mean, I can certainly understand the feeling for these teams, but they’re walking a fine line.

Posted by nosferatu from Albany, NY on 04/09/11 at 12:48 AM ET

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No one wants to play Predators or the Ducks. It has turned into a Wings/Sharks fight for the Coyotes.

Posted by MonicaMcAlister from Around on 04/09/11 at 01:01 AM ET

CC Moor's avatar

George I am pretty dejected and I wonder if your readers here will comment on whether the Red Wings have a realistic shot at it at this point.  They have looked bad and slow lately, and of course all these injuries cannot have healed even for some of the guys who are back.

Everyone has been complaining about Hudler’s year, but really, Fil, Franzen, Bert, Modano, have all been sub-par for long stretches when they have been in the line-up.  I love Howie but he is at .909 saves this year and not .924—big difference in this league.  I love all these guys personally but we cannot hang it all on Hudler!

The bottom line is, Vancouver looks unbeatable this year even though they are not 100% healthy; it’s amazing to lead the league in scoring and GA in the same year—especially in the latter case where they have had some D-men miss serious time.  But now to get there, 2nd round will be on the road….at San Jose, assuming Detroit even gets that far.

Can anyone give me reasons to cheer up?  One thought is, look what Philly did last year, coming from where they did.  It IS a new season, after all.

P.S. I also wonder if anyone has any new thinking on line-up changes?  Zetterberg being out with an ankle injury hurts as those are slow to heal;  I am trying to think creatively: e.g., Hudler was a point a game guy for 2 months, a lot of it with Pav; has Helm earned a promotion, et al.

Posted by CC Moor from Washington DC on 04/09/11 at 01:07 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...almost disinterested efforts against any team that the Wings can give themselves an excuse for losing to…

Not “almost disinterested,” George. What we’ve seen for more than a month now is a group of guys who appear to be completely disinterested. Nick looks like he can’t wait to retire. Mule looks more and more like a donkey every day. Bert completes more passes to the oppositon than he does to his own players – and Rafi isn’t far behind him in that regard.

After that third goal tonight, I thought Howard was going to break his stick over his own guys’ heads. And I wouldn’t have blamed him one bit if he had skated off the ice and given everyone on the bench the finger before heading to the locker room. Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe the level of effort shown tonight.

Personally, I quit being angry about all of this about a week ago. It finally dawned on me that if they don’t care, why the hell should I? The only thing that keeps me watching the games right now is the play of Helm, Abby, Pavel and Howard.

It’s time for Tick Tock to clean house this summer and shake things up. These guys are waaaay too comfortable to fight for anything any more.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/09/11 at 01:22 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

The whole attitude has gone to hell since Modano came back from injury.

Posted by w2j2 on 04/09/11 at 01:28 AM ET

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If you don’t want to read a panic button response, read no further.

I am so ridiculously spooked.  This does not look like a team that has the ability to turn it on.  I know that exists.  I’ve seen it in basketball with the Celtics, but I’m at a loss for a hockey example.  Rolling on all cylinders going into the playoffs certainly doesn’t guarantee victory…we’ve seen that.  But does playing like dung at the end of the reg season guarantee a quick exit?  Anyone have a better memory than I?

How can a veteran team whiff like this?  How do you suddenly become hockey dumb?  If it’s by not dialing in, how do you not dial in?

Jimmy Howard has stolen maybe two games this year, he’s not going to win games in the playoffs or lose them.  It’s about the team in front.  I can’t remember the last time I saw so many blind dumps out of the zone.  Remember when they would hold on to the puck and wait for openings?  Where did that go?  Where are the rebound goals?  Where is the sustained pressure?

I really believe they had a chance with a healthy Zetterberg, but even with him at 100 percent, this did not seem like a team that wants to compete.  Who are bad apples?  By the numbers you can crap on guys like Franzen and Hudler, but the failings aren’t on the numbers.  Well, just one number: PA.  It’s a collective decision not do what it takes defensively and it breaks my heart.

I pause now, for the reactionary sky is falling portion.  And:

What scares me is that if things keep going like this, I’m not sure what can be changed.  Most guys are locked in for next year.  Has Babcock lost them?  I’ve seen chatter about the division with Z, never saw any proof.  13 seems to like him.  The rest of the guys talk about loving Detroit, Babs is part of Detroit…so how are they not responding?  Have they become immune to the barking? 

I really think the thought was that this team would be strong competitors for 3-4 more seasons then rebuild on the fly.  I’m not trying to jump ahead to if they lose, what do we do then…but since I am the reactionary portion of the comment I will.  Do they not have enough toughness for a parity league?  Does skill only win when in abundance?  Is the sky falling?  Fin.

Posted by sloaner from Los Angeles on 04/09/11 at 01:34 AM ET

John W.'s avatar

This team has put all their eggs in the “we can flip the switch when we need to” basket..  I sure hope they are right.  They just better not draw the Ducks in the first round, the way the 2 teams are currently playing, the Ducks would destroy us.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 04/09/11 at 02:10 AM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

Everyone has been complaining about Hudler’s year, but really, Fil, Franzen, Bert, Modano, have all been sub-par for long stretches when they have been in the line-up.  I love Howie but he is at .909 saves this year and not .924—big difference in this league.  I love all these guys personally but we cannot hang it all on Hudler!
- CC Moor

I agree with everything except Howard, you can’t blame a goalie for a drop in stats when the 5 guys he’s playing behind forget how to play hockey for 5 months.  It’s not like he’s making 7 million/ year either.  .908% is perfectly acceptable for a Red Wings goalie playing behind a stacked roster;  the guys in front of him are supposed to dominate play for 60 minutes win the game.  I haven’t seen any of “those games” in the last 5 months because the wings haven’t played well enough to dominate a game and lose, let alone dominate a game and win.

I’m pissed off with this team for mailing in the season since December, but I don’t think they’re going out in the first round.  They’ll put forth an effort in the playoffs -an extremely uncoordinated, mistake filled effort- and probably duplicate last years results.  An ugly first round win followed by an ugly second round loss.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 04/09/11 at 02:28 AM ET

calquake's avatar

An ugly first round win followed by an ugly second round loss.
Posted by ChrisinA^2 from Michigan, home of the Old Wings on 04/09/11 at 01:28 AM ET

Couldn’t agree more.  The direction of the franchise may hinge on what happens this summer.

Posted by calquake on 04/09/11 at 02:41 AM ET

dmackay14's avatar

I will officially be a redwing fan for a few hours Sunday. If they let me down, I will hate them with a burning passion for the rest of my life.

Posted by dmackay14 on 04/09/11 at 04:21 AM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

Couldn’t agree more.  The direction of the franchise may hinge on what happens this summer.
-calquake

The scary thing is if Lidstrom retired, that was true, even before the team decided they didn’t give a *#$%@&.  And they’ve really taken not giving a *#$%@& to completely new levels.  As much as we chided that 2009 team for not giving a shit, the still managed to win 7 games out of 10 for almost the whole season.  The last two seasons the team played .500 hockey for most of the season, and at least the 2010 team could excuse some of their mediocrity away with crippling injuries.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 04/09/11 at 04:31 AM ET

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We will be fine.  They can’t win every single game folks.  I have confidence in this team.  To question Babcock and Holland is absolutely absurd.  These guys have consistently kept our team competitive over the last several years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Leave Howard alone, like someone Chris said: he makes 2 million a year not 7.  We have incredible value with Jimmy Howard on our net, he is a solid NHL goalie.  We’ve made the playoffs 20 years in a row, cut the team some slack.

Posted by Adam on 04/09/11 at 06:34 AM ET

edillac's avatar

Posted by Adam on 04/09/11 at 05:34 AM ET

NO,
almost everyone sucks,
I cant even think right now,
this is so horrible

Posted by edillac from isolation on 04/09/11 at 07:58 AM ET

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Adam,

I can assure you Babcock and Holland are questioning the team.  They aren’t losing because of bounces or puck luck or even from great performances from opponents, they are losing because they are not engaging.  That’s a bad sign.  Hard work is the basic foundation you build a team on.  If you don’t have that, you can’t improve on any flaws.

They’ve made the playoffs for 20 years in a row and that’s amazing, but the Lidstrom window is closing.  When it does, there will be a step back.  I can accept that, but I feel like the team is squandering their chance right now.

Posted by sloaner from Los Angeles on 04/09/11 at 08:07 AM ET

Tuba Guy's avatar

Where did the Z/Babs division talk come from?

Posted by Tuba Guy from Royal Oak, MI on 04/09/11 at 08:28 AM ET

Andy from FightNight's avatar

This team hasn’t just sucked for a few games now and then. Remember that homestand back in early December where they won the 4 first, dropped one in OT and then had a comeback win against Calgary in the last game? The last two games there was when it started to go wrong, before all the injuries. And it’s been bad ever since. The good start lead this team to believe they could float on good offense and not give their all. They’ve had occational good efforts since then and have won a lot of games by waking up in the middle of the game and because of good offense, but the defense has been terrible and the effort level hasn’t been all there.

And now in March and April, with teams fighting for their playoff lives, it has either become more evident or they have lost even more fire. The team seems unmotivated, unable to take this seriously and without any fire at all. The only guys I can say play hard on a regular basis are Helm, Eaves, Miller and Modano. Abdelkader for the most part too and Lidström, but it’s always hard to judge his effort level because it’s all so easy for him. The rest of the team seems dead an fireless.

I love Mike Babcock and hate to criticize him, but it feels like he has lost the group. At least he doesn’t seem to be able to motivate this team and make them understand the stakes. I don’t know if the solution is a new coach, blowing up the team (which I would hate to see) or anything else, but something needs to happen in the off season if this continues into the playoffs. The word I keep thinking about this is “complacency”. They just seem so damn complacent.

I guess they think there is a playoff on-switch. I hope there is, they found one after two and a half games in 02, but I’m not sure this team can do the same. I am officially worried. This team needs to be very different in attitude next week, or they will be swept. Sad but true. I’m tired of being called a panic mongerer for freaking out over this and for people to say “it’s just a bad game”. No, it’s not a fricking bad game, it’s almost sixty of them for Helm’s sake.

Two more general notes:
- The defense has been terrible ever since McLellan left. I think it’s time for McCrimmon to go and go now.
- Does it seem to anyone else that Zetterberg has not been himself since 08? He was good in the 09-playoffs, but that regular season was mediocre from him and in the two seasons after he has not been where he should be. Greg Eno has a good piece about it here: http://www.gregeno.com/?p=2275
We all know what Zetterberg can do. When he is on he can dominate the ice in all three zones and be the best player out there almost every day. He hasn’t been anywhere close to that for a long time. I’ve heard people talk about the contract he signed and I think they are right. New long term contract that makes him set for life, he won a Stanley Cup, got his famous, silicone-enhanced wife. The guy just got it all and now he’s complacent. He relaxes. It pains me to say this cause I love the guy to death, but it’s just not acceptable. He needs to wake the faux up and do his work.

Seeing this team shit the bed like this over and over sucks. We all know how much talent they have. We all know they’d be the best team in the league if they were on. But they’re not. And something must be done if this continues into the playoffs.

Posted by Andy from FightNight on 04/09/11 at 08:36 AM ET

hockeychic's avatar

I would have thought they might have at least tried to win their last home game for the fans.  Silly me.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 04/09/11 at 10:07 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

They’ve had occational good efforts since then and have won a lot of games by waking up in the middle of the game and because of good offense, but the defense has been terrible and the effort level hasn’t been all there.

You talking about since the Hossa year?

I love Mike Babcock and hate to criticize him, but it feels like he has lost the group. At least he doesn’t seem to be able to motivate this team and make them understand the stakes.

If a teacher screams and yells on the first day of school, students will be affraid of him. If he does it every week, there’s no impact.

I guess they think there is a playoff on-switch. I hope there is, they found one after two and a half games in 02, but I’m not sure this team can do the same.

There’s a huge difference between a switch from that team and from this one. I’d say that team should never be considered the measuring stick for anyone.

- The defense has been terrible ever since McLellan left. I think it’s time for McCrimmon to go and go now.

Couldn’t agree more. Last season his poor work was shaded by hard work and an unbelievable goalie (and pure luck, sometimes).

- Does it seem to anyone else that Zetterberg has not been himself since 08?

I don’t know how many times I saw his name on “hot” lists everywhere and tried to remember what he hell he was doing to be considered “hot”. I’d love to see a breakdown of his assists, right now I think most of them are the secondary type, ‘cause he hasn’t been dominant at all.

Also, I don’t know what happened to his defensive game. He used to be a blanket-type of defender, sustaining pressure at all times. Now he’s just trying to do what Datsyuk does, the one-and-done-takeaway-attempt, except he’s not like Datsyuk at all.

—-

That said, I’ll save most of my criticism for after we’re out of the playoffs (Cup or not). Silver chalice or not, changes are needed.

I’d start by giving Abdlekader-Helm-Eaves first line minutes tomorrow.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 04/09/11 at 10:34 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Tee times are available.

Posted by MoreShoot on 04/09/11 at 10:41 AM ET

Andy from FightNight's avatar

Agreed on all of that Herm. And yeah, give the Helm line first line minutes, I agree. That’d send a message to the rest.

Posted by Andy from FightNight on 04/09/11 at 10:53 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Jimmah aint even making 2 million this year - it’s more like $700,000.  I think for the most part he’s been just great.  The D has left him out to dry over and over.

Not trying to make excuses for Hank - maybe he has gotten spoiled.  But he also has a chronic bad back.  Back trouble doesn’t usually go away completely.

Definitely would like to see whatever line Helm is on be the top line on Sunday.  And Jimmah in net again.  And some D men who have had some serious caffeine before the game.

Babcock said something about a “change in mindset” that needs to happen.  Oh yeah.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 04/09/11 at 11:55 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I can’t remember the last time I saw so many blind dumps out of the zone.  Remember when they would hold on to the puck and wait for openings?  Where did that go?

It went out the window when other teams learned that pressure, hard pressure, on the puck carrier caused this group of guys to panic. Nick isn’t the player he was even two years ago. Rafi and Big E now specialize in bad passing. And Bert, god love him, must think he gets paid extra for completing passes to the opposition.

For years now, the Wings were the dominant puck-possession team. And that all began with great outlet passes. Take that away, and that’s what the opposition seems to focus on these days, and the Wings are exactly what their record has been since November – a .500 team.

I love Mike Babcock and hate to criticize him, but it feels like he has lost the group. At least he doesn’t seem to be able to motivate this team and make them understand the stakes.

When a team consistently fails to “start on time,” that’s the fault of two guys – the coach and the captain. Babs looks as lost behind the bench as the team does on the ice. And Nick, well, he may be the greatest defenseman ever but he’s been a disaster as a captain. He either needs to retire or hand the “C” over the Z next year.

The defense has been terrible ever since McLellan left. I think it’s time for McCrimmon to go and go now.

I agree completely.

I’d start by giving Abdlekader-Helm-Eaves first line minutes tomorrow.

And I agree 100% with this as well. The only problem is Bert and Mule will probably miss the “message” and just think of it as the coach trying to give them a rest before the playoffs. That message should have been sent a month or two ago.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/09/11 at 11:56 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I’d start by giving Abdlekader-Helm-Eaves first line minutes tomorrow.

I have a felling if that was consistently our first line for the past couple weeks, the Wings would have a much better record.

many teams, the Blackhawks included, have shown over the past couple seasons that young, fast, gritty is winning in this league right now.  the Wings still think puck possession gets it done.  maybe it would, but they simply aren’t capable any more.

they’re a team stuck between what the Wings were in 2008 and what the “new look” teams are now.  they’re having an identity crisis.  I honestly think it’s truly time for them to get younger, faster, and tougher.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/09/11 at 03:39 PM ET

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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.