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While this game should not be indicative of how the defense will play all year, it should queue up “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” in everyone’s mind. Fans and goaltenders alike were spoiled with the play of Lidstrom, a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.
In the past, any mistakes made by forwards or defensive partners were quickly and efficiently erased. I’m sure opposing forwards trying to take advantage of said mistakes really knew, in the back of their minds, the play would end with No. 5 swooping in, relieving them of the puck and going about his business.
That luxury is gone, and last night is evidence of the very real void that exists.
Yes, Brad Stuart left as well, and Brian Rafalski before him, but with time to reload, all there is to show for it is Carlo Colaiacovo. Brendan Smith may very well be the future, but with only 15 minutes of ice time last night, Babcock isn’t showing much faith. With Kyle Quincey getting burned more than once by rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, that may change sooner rather than later.
As previously noted, Jakub Kindl is still working off an injury, and should be expected back in the mix soon.
I don’t have much more optimism other than “how much worse could it get?” Defensemen are notoriously slow developers; so, Smith, Quincey and Kindl still have upside, but Ericsson and Ian White need to step up sooner rather than later.
Kronwall will need to play a more balanced game. His big hits will need to be much more calculated, as in the past they have led to more odd-man rushes than stalled ones.