These are my six takeaways from the latest Detroit Red Wings game. I am committed to finding three positives and three “are you kidding me” moments. In a season that has been difficult to watch there is an overwhelming amount of negativity amongst the Wings fans I know (at least through this site along with twitter) and love. So instead of getting bummed out I am going to take it on myself to find the positive while also realizing that the “are you kidding me” moments are dominant. I am extremely biased. Things I will avoid 1. Management. Like a coach I am working with the team they have given me. By the way I probably will not manage to avoid the one thing I just said I would be avoiding.
I guess I pressed my luck a little too much after "complaining" the Wings dominate(ish) a game on only my second post. I am not sure if a let down game was to be expected or if the three games in California were basically this season in a nutshell. Two games where the losing team scores 0 goals and then a 9 goal outburst that we were on the wrong side of. So lets talk about the Sharks from San Jose.
STARTING WITH A BAD-
My buddy Danny DeKeyser had himself a rough game. I actually do not know DK but I bet he is a cool dude. You know what's not cool? A minus 4 night. I am not picking on him exclusively, it isn't like there were a lot of plus players in this game, four to be exact but his play stood out to me as unusually poor. He had the second most ice time behind Brent Burns. The difference between the two is that I expect to notice Burns on the ice. DK usually has a good game when you don't notice him. I believe Danny will continue be a top six in this league and can be a top four however, like his teammates, he has to pick up his game.
TIME FOR A GOOD-
AA and Larry Mantha had excellent games once again. AA was a +2 in this game with over 14 minutes of ice time. Nine shots on goal between the two of them but more importantly I saw them play a 200 foot game. Mantha seems to already have that mindset and double A seems to understand he has to play that way. Only time will tell but it is good to see that even in a terrible overall team game these guys were getting it done.
A BAD BOOOO-
I have done extensive research and was even able to bring in Harvard and MIT to conduct a joint study with help from the US Government and NASA. I only wanted the answer to one question. What is the number one word that all Red Wings fan use while watching a game. After spending hundreds of billions of dollars and countless research hours I received the answer which in truth I already knew. The word? I bet you already know. SHOOT. It is maddening to watch this team have control of the puck for any amount of time and never get a shot on goal. And don't let the final shots in this game fool you. They had 9 shots in the first. 9 shots in the second. And a very over inflated 17 shots in the third. I can't imagine why a team up 5-1 might give a few extra shots. To be fair the word shoot has been in the number one slot since 1994.
I DUG AND FOUND A GOOD-
Our penalty kill has been lights out. Currently ninth in the league and number 9 in penalties taken. I think that is very good on a young team who also has fan favorite Steve Ott (once again on record, great signing and I do not understand the flack he gets). If we aren't going to be able to score on the power play we better hold them off while shorthanded and this team gets it done. If the Wings continue at this pace on the penalty kill and can somehow turn around the power play we might see brighter days ahead. I really appreciate seeing guys like Glendening and Miller etc giving up their bodies to block shots. In my opinion it means these guys haven't given up on the season or their team.
UH-OH A BAD-
Le Siiiiiiigh. Goaltending. Coreau deserved the start. I was more interested in how he would respond after a great game. Would it fire him up and get the team on a roll. When we scored the first goal I thought alright, here comes the test. 3 goals in 3 something minutes was the answer. I am not going to nit pick the goals but it was disappointing to see. I think we all knew Petr was coming in for the second period and he looked pretty ok. In the end though, he gave up 3 goals and over two periods he only saw 5 more shots then Coreau. I still worry about Petr's attitude and I want Coreau to become an NHL'er so I guess we hope Howard can get back, stay healthy and play at a top level. Howie is still number four in GAA and second in save percentage so obviously there isn't really one goalie out there lighting it up. I hope these guys can find their game. Our lack of offense requires it.
A CONTINUED GOOD-
Have I mentioned that I really like Thomas Vanek. I have. So I decided to keep a closer eye on him and try to find something that he might be lacking and to my untrained hockey sense I couldn't find one major thing that stood out. He plays big in the O zone, he back checks like crazy. He seems to have a very high hockey IQ. He finds open players and is able to win the one on one battles. I think the Vanek, Nielsen, AA line has some nice chemistry and is one of the most consistent recently. I like Nielsen a lot but I think it is Vanek that anchors that line. I have said this before and I truly believe that we wouldn't still be in the postseason conversation without Thomas Vanek.
Well my friends it really is getting down to the nitty gritty. The next five games are against very good teams and it might actually be the defining block of games of where we end up this season. My blind faith and Red Wing tinted vision says we can get it done. So let's get to it. As always thanks for reading.