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Broken Wings: Detroit Hockey Is About As Healthy As City's Economy

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst INovember 23, 2009

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 21:  Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings is helped off of the ice after being tripped by Georges Laraque #17 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game on November 21, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The health of the Red Wings' roster is starting to match that of the economy of the city in which they play.

Detroit's unemployment rate is currently three times the national average.

The Red Wings currently have five regulars out of the lineup, approximately two times above the league's average.

Yes, as tough as things may be where you live, they are no doubt tougher in Detroit.

Defenseman Nicklas Kronwall joins a list of injured regulars that includes Andreas Lilja, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, and Jason Williams.

Collectively, this could easily be a solid five-man unit for the Red Wings.

Nicklas Kronwall was injured early in the first period of Saturday's game against the Montreal Canadians.

Montreal forward and resident goon, George Laraque, was skating out of the corner having just been assessed a delayed, four-minute penalty for high-sticking when he decided to do even more damage.

As Laraque skated past Kronwall, he stuck out his leg and connected squarely with Kronwall's left knee, sending him spinning down to the ice.

Kronwall lay on the ice, curled up in pain for several seconds before being helped off into the dressing room.

The good news is that Kronwall will only miss four to eight weeks to an MCL sprain and not an MCL/ACL tear as was originally feared.

This is tantamount to Ford, Chrysler, or GM enthusiastically reporting they only lost $100 million dollars last quarter and not the projected $500 million.

It's a loss, just not as big a loss as it could've been.

Laraque was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for tripping. However, the league is currently reviewing the incident and have asked Red Wings management for a report on Kronwall's condition.

This would seem to indicate that the NHL is preparing to suspend Laraque for the play, which would be a welcome sign of good governance on the part of the NHL considering the horrendous "no-goal" call that occurred during Wednesday's loss to Dallas.

Needless to say, this is a week the Red Wings would love to have back.

With Kronwall out of the lineup, spare defenseman Derek Meech will step in to fill his spot.

The team can only hope that Meech will be able to get in game shape quickly as they are set to play four games in six nights. Tomorrow night, the Red Wings will take on theΒ  the suddenly dominant Nashville Predators, who are currently on a five-game winning streak.

Despite yet another blow to a team desperately needing a stroke of luck, there are some bright points piercing through the gloom in Detroit.

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have looked every bit the franchise players they are of late, combining for 13 points over their past five games.

And rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard seems to be finally settling into life in the NHL as he has won four of his last five starts.

It's tough to say where this team would be if it were able to ice the roster it has on paper.

All in all, they're not in that bad a position now as they're trailing the division leading Chicago Blackhawks by only six points with a game in-hand.

Still, reporting that the Red Wings are only six points out of first place in the division as a good thing seems rather bizarre given this team's performance over the past decade.

A bit like hearing that pillars of American business like GM and Ford were showing signs of financial turbulence.

Wow, wouldn't that be welcome news now.

As for Detroit's hockey team, one can only hope that they can stay solvent long enough to get past this rash of bad breaks and recover in time to battle for one of the top playoff spots come March.

If not, reports on the Red Wings may start to simply mirror reports on Detroit's economy.

Losing is expected, but near losses pass as good news.

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