The Detroit Red Wings are 12-10-5 after 27 games in this 48-game season.
No, the Red Wings are not in the playoffs.
Yes, the Red Wings are still in the playoff picture (ninth overall).
How do they rate midway through the 2012-13 season?
The Red Wings must be rated in three fundamental areas: coaching, offense and defense.
How does a coach react when his best players are on "the shelf" with an injury?
How about putting Pavel Datsyuk on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Cleary?
Kulka's Korner explains why this was a terrible idea.
Pavel Datsyuk has had nothing short of a miserable time trying to find the score sheet since mid-February.
Being the center to two offensively inept forwards can be frustrating to say the least.
Kukla's Korner goes a step further in that article to say that head coach Mike Babcock "has somehow done what the rest of the league's never been able to accomplish: he's shut Datsyuk down."
Babcock has single-handedly disabled the Red Wings' second line by putting Pavel Datsyuk in between Abdelkader and Cleary.
Datsyuk is used to having talent around him to put the puck in the net; Abdelakder and Cleary don't exactly qualify as offensive talent. Although Datsyuk has eight assists in his past 11 games, he has no goals.
That's a problem.
Usually, if something doesn't work, coaches are able to adjust on the fly. Mike Babcock has had Datsyuk on that same line with Abdelkader and Cleary since mid-February and the Red Wings' offense has suffered enormously because of it.
Twentieth overall for goals for the Detroit Red Wings' offense.
With Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing virtually every game (and Franzen and Filppula playing where they can), this overall ranking in goals (2.52 per game) should not exist.
Although the Red Wings are scoring 1.15 goals at even strength for every even-strength goal scored against them, their power play has been less than efficient (15.1 percent) at 25th in the NHL.
This means that Detroit has not only had limited options to resort to offensively, but their source of offense in the past (the power play) has gone by the wayside.
Datsyuk hasn't scored since February 19 (12 games ago), and Henrik Zetterberg hasn't scored in nine games (the 8-3 win over Vancouver).
Hard to debate the Red Wings' offensive grade of "C" with numbers like that from their superstars.
It's hard to defend the Red Wings' defense.
Then again, it is hard to defend the Red Wings as a team with their play of late.
Detroit's defense stands 10th overall in the NHL in terms of goals against per game. Giving up 2.56 goals per game, the Red Wings should be a lot better than where they are in the standings.
Unfortunately, the Red Wings have only killed 78.4 percent of their penalties this far into the season, good for 25th in the league.
This means that the Red Wings' "defense" has been failing at key times.
Examples of this include playing a "58-minute game" against the Blackhawks on NBC's "Game of the Week." The Red Wings led 1-0 until just over two minutes to go in the game as the Red Wings gave up a power-play goal to Patrick Kane.
Yes, there have been a significant amount of games that have gone to overtime because of the Red Wings' defense, but there have also been a significant amount of games where Detroit has found a way to lose after taking a 2-0 lead.
It is truly hard to defend a team who lacks effort on many a game.
If the Red Wings were getting a grade for effort (depending on what team they were playing that respective night) they would probably get a "D."
The Red Wings have just lacked a player who can provide instant effort and energy, game in, and game out. Darren Helm has been out of the lineup for all but one game this season, but even at this point in the season there's no guarantee that putting him back on the ice would change the energy level on this team.
Once the Red Wings decide to engage their effort levels on a more consistent basis, there should be more than enough reason to believe that they will make the playoffs.
Until then, don't count on anything.
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