After tonight's embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Red Wings are a very impressive 15-4-4. This record is leading people to believe that the Wings are avoiding the "Stanley Cup hangover," something that occurred in Tampa Bay, Carolina and Anaheim. I'm writing this to say that these people are wrong.
Yes, the Wings have an incredible record, but anyone who actually watches the games can clearly see that something is terribly wrong. Lets start with the goal-tending.
Chris Osgood came in last year as the backup and saved the Wings from Dominik Hasek. Osgood proved to be solid and took over for Hasek after the first four play-off games. Osgood's calm play lead Detroit to its fourth Cup in 11 years.
Now if you look at this year, Osgood has been a liability in almost every game. His .878 save percentage just won't cut it at all. Ty Conklin, his backup, has played much better but was pulled in tonight's loss after allowing three goals on just nine shots.
The goaltending is not the only part of the team to blame, the defensemen have been surprisingly bad all year.
The first major surprise is captain Nicklas Lidstrom. who has just 14 points in 23 games and hasn't been himself all year. In order for the Wings to turn this around, Lidstrom has to get back to his usual self.
Brian Rafalski, Lidstrom's partner on defense, has been even worse. His defensive positioning has been brutal and after a hot start in terms of scoring, he has slowed down considerably.
Thankfully, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart have picked up some slack and Brett Lebda has improved after a very rough start.
If not for the offense, this team would definitely be nowhere near where they are in the standings up to this point. Hossa, the big summer FA signing, has delivered with 26 points in 23 games.
Henrik Zetterberg is scoring at a little more than point per game pace and Pavel Datsyuk is at exactly a point per game, but he could be doing better.
Some pleasant surprises so far this year have been the play of Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson, and the continued success of Johan "The Mule" Franzen.
Hudler has scored an incredible 20 points in 23 games while Samuelsson has 21 in 23. Johan Franzen has built from his success of last year despite a knee injury, having scored 10 goals in just 18 games so far.
Looking at this, I have no reason to believe that the Wings will continue to play so poorly. Datsyuk is starting to heat up and Lidstrom can only get better from here on out.
If Osgood can return to his regular self, the Wings will be back to winning games by 5-1 and 4-2 scores before you know it.
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