Game 64: No money, no problems, not much to write about
Finally, a week after the trade deadline, the Red Wings hopefully will get the final piece to their playoff puzzle.
Johan Franzen is excused for being preoccupied with the birth of his son of late. But now that that’s over he has to focus on getting to the net like he’s able. The big Swede is the best North-South guy in the Wings’ top-6 and if he plays like he’s capable, first in the West may be there for the taking.
If we’re to take Mule at his word, tonight’s game against Anaheim should be revelatory. It better be, because going 12 games without scoring won’t cut it as his pay rate.
I predict two goals and a fight with Corey Perry, if that son-of-a-so-and-so sticks with his decision to play tonight.
Red Wings vs. The Blob
This is a little dated, but nonetheless useful blurb about the blob of teams competing for position in the West. Pardon the soul who wrote this for referring to the Wings as ‘The Scum;’ she’s a Blackhawks fan. Take it as a compliment.
If you don’t like bright colors or giving Hawk sites traffic, here’s the skinny: Of the Wings’ 18 remaining games 12 of them are against teams contending for the playoffs in the West (13 if you count Vancouver though if you trust Sports Club Stats are locked in). Four are against teams in the East. . . And but a single game (vs. Edmonton March 11) is against a team currently out of the running.
There are a couple obvious conclusions to be drawn. They’re all obvious but still pretty striking. The salary cap has been a great thing for the league. The Wings are only a couple bad games from being sucked up by the blob.
Osgood can hurry up and come back any time now.
Looking ahead, way ahead
The deadline was a drag if you’re a Red Wings fan who wanted to see the team get blown up for whatever ridiculous reason.
But hang in there, the offseason could be dynamite. All things being equal, having Nick Lidstrom sign for another year is by miles the preferred option. But it’s hard not to scratch your chin at a couple of guys who will be restricted free agents this Summer.
Drew Doughty isn’t as good with his stick (who is?) and can’t match Nick’s positional play (who can?) but it’s hard not to get excited by his ability to change the tenor of a shift with one rush, pass or well-timed foray into the slot.
However LA has enough cap room to keep the 21-year-old, and it’s probably in the league’s best interest for him to re-sign.
Shea Webber might be a more gettable option if Lidstrom decides to hang up his skates and become VP of something-or-other. But I’m not sure he’s worth the money he’ll get. He strikes me as a more dynamic but (even) less responsible Nick Kronwall.
Zach Bogosian, please. His numbers (besides, notably, +/-) compare favorably to any 20-year-old Detroit rearguard of recent memory. The reason for that is he plays in Atlanta.
Even if Lidstrom returns next year it will be something of a transitional campaign on defense. But no matter who returns from among Lidstrom, Ericsson and Salei there’s enough skill in the system to keep the Wings competitive.
Why no Millers Time?
I would literally trust Mike Babcock and Ken Holland with my life, but I thought the decision to scratch Drew Miller against Buffalo was kind of inhumane. The Wings fancy themselves a family organization and brother-vs.-brother matchups in the NHL are super-rare unless you’re a Sutter or a Staal.
Drew, of course, scored two goals in his next game so what do I know? Just saying’s all.
Hurry up playoffs, please.