As a Red Wings fan and a writer, I am having some difficulty understanding why this Wings squad constantly "forgets" to show up to games that seem to be easy victories. Yes, yes I am aware that no games are easy in the new NHL. Nevertheless, one would assume that teams should not "s*!t the bed" against the lowly Edmonton Oilers.
Some fans will blame the injuries, the losses to free agency, or the team getting old. But this just should not be the case. There are other things to blame as well. Most of these things are easily identifiable, but slightly harder to fix.
First of all, it is very hard to have a consistent winning record on the road in the NHL. This being the case, it would only make sense to try and push extra hard to have an exceptional record at home.
The Red Wings have had fabulous records over the past few seasons, but this season, they seem to have been having troubles scoring goals as of late in home games.
Some suggestions for how the Red Wings can ameliorate their current state:
1. Man up and play some hockey.
If San Jose Sharks' defense man, Dan Boyle can play the entire first two months of the hockey season with a broken thumb, Rafalski and Eaves should be able to man up and play hockey with their minor injuries.
Every game, more Red Wings seem to get injured and tonight was no exception. Detroit defense man Johnathan Ericsson was injured and had to be helped off the ice. Listed day-to-day with an unnamed injury, Ericsson is just the latest of a slew of Red Wings to get the injury bug.
2. Come to play in the FIRST period!
When the Wings score first, they are 6-2-2. When they let the opposing team score first, they are only 7-8-2. They have only scored 22 first period goals all year, and allowed 23. That negative scoring ratio can only mean one thing: Losses.
Solution? Push hard to score the first goal. Go out of the way to put the pressure on the other team's defense men by keeping the puck in their zone. Even without Kronwall and now Ericsson, the Red Wings have the ability to hold the puck in the other team's zone for as long as they want.
3. Help out on Defense!
How do you explain the Red Wings defense. With two of the best defense men in the League in Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, one would think that the Wings would not be ranked 15th in most goals against.
Unfortunately this is the case, and since neither Red Wings goalie seems to be able to stay hot for more than two games at a time, the Red Wings must learn the basics of playing defense.
4. Two words: SPECIAL TEAMS
Penalty kill: 26th in the League. Absolutely unacceptable—76.9 percent
That is somewhere between one-for-four and one-for-five on the kill. Giving opponents goals on the power play like that is just giving games away in general. Tonight was a rare exception. 0-1. Hopefully you can kill off one penalty.
Power play: 12th in the League. 21.1 percent.
Decent to say the least. Still, how do you explain a drop from first to 12th. The lack of Hossa and Hudler hurts. But despite that fact, last year it was 25.5 percent for the year. This drop in production has definitely hurt Detroit in situations where it is in place to put a game away with a power play goal.
5. Stop the revolving door of goaltenders.
2007-08. Hasek/Osgood. Hasek pulled in first round of playoffs, Osgood backstops team to Cup.
2008-09 Osgood/Conklin. Osgood takes load for almost the entire playoffs but ultimately ends up losing games six and seven due to lack of offensive production.
2009-10 Osgood/Howard...How will this goal-tending "controversy" end? Well let's find out.
Howard is 7-5-1 with a 90.6 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA.
Osgood...just looking at his stats makes one wince. He is 6-5-3 with a 89.7 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA.
6. Wrap up.
But hey you say, 2.67, and 2.77 aren't that bad for goals against average. That would mean that the Red Wings only need to score an average of three goals a game to win most affairs right?
Check again. This Red Wings squad has been devastated by the salary cap free agency last year and by injuries this year.
I now ask you this: Sitting at 11th in the Western Conference, 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, are these Red Wings CAPABLE of scoring three goals a game? Because as of date, their 2.85 Goals per Game are not getting the job done.
Thoughts, suggestions, are appreciated...
A bewildered writer and fan.