Monday, October 26, 2009

Wysh Chimes in on Wings' Slow Start

Sooner or later, Puckdaddy was going to have to talk about knew it was coming.  The lead writer (and New Jersey Devils fan) finally thought it's far enough into the season to call the Red Wings out.

After rattling off some of their meager stats through nine games, Wysh says:

Again, it's been nine games; but nine games are a large enough sample for national media, Detroit media and the blogosphere to take a critical look at a team that's critically underperforming.

Some of the analysis is scathing, some of it is panicked, but much of it applies the kid-glove label of "transition year" to a team that came one win over the Pittsburgh Penguins away from the Stanley Cup last spring, and to a franchise that's been able to reload like a gunslinger for the last 15 years.

All of it points to two questions: What's wrong with the Red Wings, and can they recover?

He doesn't really go on to answer either of these questions.  Using parts of the Brad Stuart quote I posted on here earlier about "bad puck luck" and then quoting King Lidas about all of the new faces in the lineup...which I guess starts to answer the first question posed above.  Is chemistry an issue on this team?  Watching Saturday's game, and even parts of Thursday's against the 'Yotes and I would have to say 'No'.  It appeared to me that all lines were clicking on Saturday, getting chances, working hard.  There was not an abundance of miscues and errant passes.  It didn't look like there was any dissention on the bench, though my exposure via FSD was limited.

The fact is that the Red Wings are struggling out of the gate in the wrong season, as up-is-down in the Western Conference and playoff spots that appeared slotted for the elite are being slowly claimed by the peasants. It's going to take an epic nosedive for the Colorado Avalanche (18 points) and the Los Angeles Kings (16 points) not to be near the bubble this season after their torrid starts. Chicago, Columbus and Calgary are all on schedule. Vancouver's just getting warmed up, and the Ducks haven't made noise yet.

This isn't to say Detroit won't be a playoff team. This is to say that Devellano's correct in thinking that the Red Wings are going to have to fight like hell to make them, especially if this early-season swoon is prolonged.

What's more possible?  A group of veterans who have been to two consecutive Stanley Cup finals turning their season around, or a group of kids taking a nosedive through the standings at the first sign of adversity?  Look at what happened to Crosby and Malkin's team when the going got tough last year...after a white hot start to the season, they found themselves out of a play-off spot in February until bringing in new faces (Kunitz, Guerin, Bylsma) turned their season around. 

Point is, it's better to be slow out of the gate, and fast to the finish.  Unless you're St. Louis, that is...the league's hottest team in the 2nd half of the season was swept in the first round.  Maybe the fact that the Red Wings are doing so terrible now, means that they won't totally suck in the month of February, as the norm has been the past few years.

Would any other team be getting as much recognition with such a slow start?  I can think of 2 other teams: Pittsburgh and Washington.  Look at Anaheim, a team that, in my mind would have beaten Pittsburgh for the Cup last year if the Wings hadn't stopped them.  Anaheim is currently 3-5-1, a point behind Detroit in the Western Conference standings, and Wysh classifies them as "not made noise yet".  Panic in Anaheim?  Probably not, because historically, the team has always gotten off to a slow start.  People just aren't used to the Red Wings starting off that way...those in Detroit and those simply watching from across the country.

If the Red Wings had put even two performances like the game against Buffalo together, I might be a little more inclined to buy into the whole "transitional period" hype.  But they're playing well, they're trying hard, and they're coming close.

So in conclusion, either the pucks are going to start bouncing our way as Brad and Bert have suggested, or that argument is going to prove a bad excuse and the sky is in fact falling down around us.  As a biased blogger (and an optimist), I'm going to assume that the Wings will turn it around...but I may get my umbrella out of the closet.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Drew. I tend toward pessimism but agree with you on all accounts.