After 3 games Detroit has not played to fan standard; leading to the question: are the Red Wings a playoff team?
When we look at the Red Wings after the first week of the season there are glaring issues with this year’s team.
The injuries have mounted and players are getting a lot more ice time then they are used to.
With players such as Bertuzzi, Kindl, Mursak, Helm, Ericcison, MacDonald out and Holstrom and Lindstrom retiring, are the Red Wings looking at missing the playoffs for the first time in two decades?
Here are the good and the bad us fans can take away from the first 3 games of the NHL season.
He is young and inexperienced, but is fast and a great goal scorer. In 56 games last year he produced 22 goals and 36 assists.
He wasn’t just a goal scorer, but a playmaker. He looked like Datsyuk on the AHL level.
Another key signing was Jordin Tootoo from the Predators.
Tootoo isn’t the point-producer Nyquist is, but he remains a force to be reckoned with. The Right Winger provides the Wings physicality and speed. As fans witnessed in the Columbus game he isn’t afraid to fight.
Detroit’s offseason signings will have to make up for the injuries and retirements early in the season.
Damien Brunner is a new face most Red Wing fans are just noticing, especially after that shoot out goal against Columbus.
Brunner shined in the Swiss league along with fellow Red Wing, Henrik Zetterberg.
In 45 Swiss League games Brunner tallied 24 goals and 36 assists. Together him Zetterberg made for a great line, which is why Mike Babcock has put them in a similar role for the Wings.
Another crucial signing was back-up goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Last season Jimmy Howard’s backup was Ty Conklin. Conklin spent the 2011-12 season bouncing from Detroit and Grand Rapids, which gave Howard the notion that he didn’t have to fight for his spot.
Now with Jonas, a goalie with a proven track record; Howard must play better to make sure he stays on the ice, not the bench.
Looking closely into the first few games, we can see some awful reoccurring themes. While this is a SMALL sample size, the Wings defense has looked disgusting.
Brenden Smith has improved a bit since last year, however that is the slightest of silver linings.
Mistakes and giveaways have haunted Kyle Quincey, Kent Huskins, and even the fan favorite Niklas Kronwall.
With Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski gone, and Ericsson hurting the Wings defense is thin. Quincey has countless giveaways in his own zone and Brenden Smith is showing his youth, even though there are signs of a decent defenseman in his play.
Now back to the giveaways. Some group this together with “overall defense”, but it should be considered “passing and/or teamwork”.
Obviously having a Lockout causes problems that will make the best of teams sloppy; but are the Wings one of the best? There is no clear answer at this time.
However looking closely at the first three games one can see the constant pressure on Jimmy Howard caused by the lack of crisp passing.
Giveaways in Detroit’s zone have accounted for more than a couple of the goals in this short season so far. This is something that can be fixed over time, and hopefully soon.
As the old adage goes, the best offense is a solid defense; The Wings defense is not helping a stagnant offense.
On special teams the weak Power Play is now an alarming issue. The Wings have started the season 0-for-15 on the power play, while giving up a short-handed goal.
This obviously can not become a common theme if Detroit wants to return to the playoffs. With only 48 games to play every game is critical.
In three games the Wings have suffered a 6-0 thrashing in St. Louis, and a 2-1 defeat to Dallas (the score not being reflective of the game).
With a team that consists of Johan Franzen and the prolific Datsyuk scoring goals, and winning games should not be this difficult.
In order for Detroit to make the playoffs they will have to have some defensive stability before their main players return. If that fails the team may look into signing players such as Pernell Subban to give the defense some life.
The lockout has affected the teams chemistry (passing, play calling), but every team is dealing with this.
With Nyquist and White deemed as the Wings future. They need the two play beyond their years while the injuries of others heal. On offense, the Wings must gain momentum, and on Special Teams they must find a way to end their inability on the Power Play.
If these three main concerns are addressed the Wings will secure their 22nd consecutive playoff berth.
What is your opinion? Do you feel they have the pieces to be considered a playoff team?