Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Midseason "Mediocrity"

One week. Seven whole days. No Red Wings games. I guess now is just about the perfect time to review the first 46 games of the Detroit Cup Defense and summarize my thoughts about the season, just past the half-way mark.

Notable games thus far:
Oct. 9 - Banner raised for Cup #11.
Oct. 25 - Hossa's F-U slapshot in the shootout seals it against the pesky 'Hawks.
Nov. 11 - Penguins score four in the in overtime. I flipped a table.
Nov. 29 - Witnessed pain firsthand against the damned Bruins.
Dec. 18 - Took a huge bite out of the Sharks' credibility.
Dec. 30/Jan. 1 - Home-and-home with Chicago puts the Hawks in their place, Classic-ly.
Jan. 17 - Sharks fight back at home, win a real close one.

So, that puts the Wings at 31-9-6 thus far. I'm alright with that. I'm not happy about it, but I'm alright with it. That simple sentence should tell you how ridiculously high the expectations are for the Red Wings every year. They are 3rd in the league, only five points out of 1st, and I'm not even close to satisfied with their season thus far. Any other fanbase would say I'm insane, and maybe I am, but there are plenty of blatent signs that must be fixed in order to win Cup #12.

First, and foremost, is the goaltending issue. I have already addressed my worries about Osgood but last night's 6-3 loss to the Coyotes didn't do anything to strengthen my feelings about Conklin either. So, I'd like that to be resolved. I'm not calling for a trade or a free agent signing, I just want the goalies to play better. Practice harder, eat healthier, meditate, rub your lucky rabbit's foot...I don't care how it gets done. Just play better Ozzie, and play better Conk. You both need to step it up if the Wings want to have any chance in April.

The second issue is the defense. Lidstrom has dropped from superhero to mere mortal. I mean yeah, he's still the Dalai Lama of mere mortals, but a mortal nonetheless. People are actually saying he won't win the Norris this year. And it's not just Captain Nick either: Raffy has been slow, Stuart has been reckless, and Lilja has been making good passes, handling the puck well, and killing off penalties. Whoa. If that last part isn't a sign of the degradation of the Wings' blueline, I'm not sure what is.

In all seriousness though, the Red Wings have been good but not great. Right now, they're a milkshake without whipped cream. They're John Lennon without the rest of the Beatles. They're the 90's Bulls without Jordan. Their offense will take them into the playoffs as a high seed and probably through a couple rounds of the playoffs, but unless the defense improves and the goaltending turns the corner, this team will fall far short of its pre-season expectations. And I just can't have that.

So, make the changes Babcock, get those goalies in shape Bedard. I want to see results by March. Merry Mid-season. Go Wings.

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