The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/27/12 at 08:10 AM ET
MLive’s Ansar Khan spoke to Red Wings forward Johan Franzen about both his disappointing 2011-2012 season and playoffs and his team’s stumbles from February onward, and, well…While Khan says that the Wings’ free agency shopping list does indeed include all of my hopes in that damn bottom-six winger with size to mash and grind on the fourth line, the top-pair defenseman the Wings couldn’t find after Brian Rafalski retired and Mike Babcock’s wished-for top-six goal-scorer, Franzen seems to suggest that the Wings missed Chris Osgood and Kris Draper’s presences and leadership in unexpected ways:
“We need to have more fun out there, get some confidence back,’’ Franzen said. “We looked like a drained team, kind of, in most of the games. Get some joy back, believing in ourselves, knowing that we’re a good team, and play for each other.’‘
The Red Wings were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators. Franzen, speaking Tuesday, when players cleaned out their lockers, believes the handwriting was on the wall following a 7-11-4 finish to the regular season.
“We didn’t have a good ending to the season, eight wins in the last (27), including playoffs,’’ Franzen said. “You got to come into playoffs with confidence, otherwise it’s so tight. You’re playing a team with a really good defense and a great goalie (Pekka Rinne), so if you don’t have that extra thing to get through it’s going to be tough.’‘
Um…Exactly? You can keep on reading for more on that front from Franzen, but Khan delivers noteworthy quips from both Franzen and his coach regarding the Mule’s difficult playoff performance…and future with the team:
“Couldn’t really get anything going, that’s the way it was,’’ Franzen said. “I don’t really know why, just couldn’t get it in the net. It’s always frustrating when you lose.’‘
The Red Wings aren’t apt to trade Franzen after one bad postseason. Despite having eight years and $27.75 million remaining on his contract, he has a reasonable salary-cap hit ($3.95) for a player who has averaged 29.5 goals per season since 2007-08, excluding his injury-shortened 2009-10 season. It would be difficult to replace that production at that cost. Plus, they might lose their second-leading goal-scorer, Jiri Hudler, to free agency.
Others also struggled against Nashville. Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary had no goals. So coach Mike Babcock wasn’t about to single out Franzen.
“I don’t think we scored even-strength at all (four five-on-five goals in the series),’’ Babcock said. “I don’t think you want to point at the Mule. I think you want to point at all of us.’‘
Again, give the rest of Khan’s article a gander. To say it’s “revealing” is an understatement:
“Who wouldn’t want Pavel (Datsyuk), Hank, Kronner (Niklas Kronwall), Nick (Lidstrom), Fil ... I can go on and on,’’ Franzen said. “We got a great team. We just got to realize that.’‘
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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.