6 Reasons Why the Slump Is Nothing to Worry About
The home-game winning streak is over, and the Detroit Red Wings are coming off their high.
The ride is over, and it's time to get ready for the final month before the playoffs begin; however, the Red Wings seem to have hit a bump in the road. Actually, this bump seems more like a pothole with the way they have played recently.
It is definitely frustrating to see the team play like this after they were probably the hottest team in the NHL for so long. It's not time to panic, though, and it's definitely not time to blow up the team.
Really, it's may indicate playoff success, it all depends on when the team breaks out of its slump.
This Has Happened Before
It seems that every year the Red Wings have a stretch of bad games and can't seem to get a win. Fans complain and worry while others just want to crawl into a corner until the playoffs start. Some even think that the team will be a first-round exit because of the awful play showcased during these stretches.
This might be an uplifting fact: From February 7, 2008 to February 29, 2008 the Red Wings only won one game of the 11 they played. They only won four of the 14 they played that month. Before that slump, the team looked like the hottest in the NHL coming off an eight-game winning streak.
The Red Wings went on to win the President's Trophy and the Stanley Cup.
Does this mean the team will win the Cup? No, but it's definitely a reason to not be concerned about a few losses.
The Team Is Missing a Key Piece
About a week ago we got some bad news: Pavel Datsyuk would miss two weeks after a minor knee surgery, just a little something bothering him that the organization didn't want to worry about in the playoffs.
The sooner he returns the better. The team has yet to win without him and, aside from a few periods, hasn't seemed to have any jump in their play.
Think of it this way: the Red Wings lost to a highly skilled Vancouver team who were very hungry to win that game. Detroit seemed to match them in the second period and even outplay them in the third. The game required a shootout to decide a winner.
All of that without a guy who is arguably the best player in the NHL and undeniably a top-five player. This doesn't mean the outcome would have been different, but it's something to think about.
It's Trading Season
It's that time of year when some teams will look one way one week and look completely different the next. This won't be the case for Detroit; though, they have room to improve. Ken Holland already made a move to bring Kyle Quincey back to solidify the back end and still has a little less than thirty hours to make another move.
The team doesn't need a sniper; that won't mix with the team's play. They don't need a superstar either, who will throw away a chance at future Cups.
What they do need is a playmaker—a guy that can get the puck to the net, open up the ice and setup his teammates. A little grit wouldn't hurt either.
Detroit's recent play seems to involve a lack of scoring chances and a lot of trying to keep the puck out of their own zone. A new guy might help bring a little life to the offense.
A Trade Really Isn't That Necessary
I know I just spent an entire slide talking about what kind of trade would help the Wings. Help is the key word though; it wouldn't guarantee a fix.
The Wings really just need to change up their game a little. Too many times they'll just pass the puck around and maybe get a shot or two until the other team gets possession. This isn't just on the power play; it's any time Detroit has the puck.
Another problem is getting into the offensive zone. Whenever they get into the offensive zone they are knocked off the puck, or their pass is intercepted and the other team is on their way down the ice.
The team seems to be waiting for the perfect shot and while they just pass it around the other team may just come and grab the puck and get an odd-man rush or even a breakaway. Guys just need to throw the puck at the net sometimes and go for a rebound, and we have seen glimpses of this happen.
The past few games we have watched them continue to take shots on a single play, and it seems like their best chance to score the entire game. Even if the opposing team does get possession it gives the defenders time to get back and protect the net.
As for getting into the offensive zone, there just needs to be smarter play.
Crossing the blue line and passing to the guy on the boards won't work when there are three or four guys all lined up in front of you and two of them are between you and the guy you're passing to.
The reason Datsyuk does it so well is because he doesn't just charge into the zone; he dances around and makes the defense move. If he does just charge right in, it's because there's room.
The Remaining Schedule
While the St. Louis Blues are getting closer and closer to the top spot in the Central division, they still have a long way to go to hold that spot.
The Blues have a worse road record than the Wings, if you can believe that. They also have more road games left than the Red Wings. Road games or not, the Red Wings have the easier schedule going forward.
Red Wings remaining 2011-2012 Schedule
They Have Shown They Can Flip a Switch Before
This picture is from April 10, 2011. It was the final game before the playoffs were to begin and the Chicago Blackhawks needed just one point to get in. The only thing that stood in their way was the Detroit Red Wings.
The good news for Chicago was that the Red Wings had been playing very pedestrian-like hockey for a few weeks, and fans were worried there would be another playoff upset. Detroit was going to need a miracle to stop Chicago from reaching the playoffs.
It didn't take a miracle, Detroit came out firing on all cylinders with an aggressive forecheck and a hard effort from the entire team. They were able to beat a desperate team—a good, desperate team even—4-3 in regulation. It got plenty of Detroit fans excited for the playoffs.
So even though they are slumping now, remember that this is the Detroit Red Wings we're talking about. Come late March, Detroit will have visions of Lord Stanley dancing in their heads.