Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Been a Tough Year...

... for Red Wings fans.  We're two games away from the season's halfway point and the Wings are on the bubble as far as the playoffs go... currently residing in ninth place in the West.  Which is where they've been... more or less... all year.  But there's reason to be hopeful.  Here's Cassie Campbell, writing for CBC Sports:
Mike Babcock has to be a candidate for coach of the year!
I know his team, the Detroit Red Wings, is full of talent and is expected to be vying for a Stanley Cup every year, but right now they're in ninth spot, out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Wings are a team that has both the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks thinking, 'Please get a lot better and move way up the standings or please get a lot worse and move way down the standings - just as long as we don't have to face them in the first round!'
If the Wings make the playoffs this year, Mike Babcock and his staff will have done one heck of a job. I mean, the injuries alone would probably decimate any other team, but he has found a way to keep his team competing while dealing with 180-plus man games lost.
Only three players have played in all 39 games - Bertuzzi, Lidstrom and Holmstrom. All have had injuries from the past that they are stilling dealing with. Injuries to Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Dan Cleary, Jonathan Ericsson, Jason Williams, Valtteri Filppula and Andreas Lilja have depleted the core of this team.
Babcock has had to try and find a way to get more out of depth players like Patrick Eaves, Justin Abdelkader and newcomer Drew Miller. They're not putting up big time points, but have been effective in improving a penalty kill that was a disappointment last season.
The Wings do not have one forward in the Top 25 in league scoring, nor do they have one defenceman in the Top 25 in defenceman scoring.
I've watched with great dismay as the Wings lost player after player to injuries this year and wondered if the unthinkable is actually thinkable, that being the Wings fail to make the playoffs for the first time in the last 20 years or so.  But it's entirely possible if the parade of injuries continues or if the expected recovery of key players like Franzen, Zetterberg, Ericsson, or Filppula doesn't happen for one reason or another.  Still and even, Ms. Campbell has a point: Babcock has done a brilliant job of making a silk nylon purse out of a sow's ear.  It's doubtful any other team in the league could have taken such massive hits to their roster and stayed in contention for a playoff spot.  

Babcock has done a great job of coaching, but the Wings' persistence and resilience is also a testimonial to the depth of their farm clubs.  There's some great young talent playing for the Wings in the AHL... and some of those guys are getting called up to the Big League a LOT earlier than expected.
We remain hopeful...


  1. "We're two games away from the season's halfway point..."

    And yet the season doesn't end until @ July 4th. Freakin' worse than baseball.

  2. Agreed. The season is WAY too long. This has been a hot button of mine for years. I'm thinkin' 60 games would be about right... start the playoffs in late February or early March... at the latest.

  3. I am in no way prepared to write the Wings off yet. Though hopeful isn't the word I would use for my wishes in their direction. Something more like unsupportive would sum it up better. I would be thrilled to miss out on having to deal with them this coming playoff season, assuming my Avs continue their successful start.

  4. The "other Andy" here. Buck, even though I have family in the biz, I know very little about NHL hockey, and even less about the Red Wings.

    But one thing I do know is that when a plan is laid out for the season (in any sport), and injuries hit you over and over, only a very good coach can handle it. Witness OU, and to a lesser extent, my LSU Tigers this college football season.

    I'll just give my best wishes to you and your Wings. And, I'll close by saying that while the NHL season may be too long...the college football season is too short.

  5. Buck, I feel your pain: My Flyers have had a tough season already with both injuries and then a Coaching change (I really like Stevens too). They are tied for 8th with 3 other teams in the East. There is a lot of hockey to go yet. I'm thinking more like 50 odd games for the regular season.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  6. Woo-Hoo! Winter Classic at Fenway tomorrow! Go Bruins!

  7. This is Sansietch. Originally from MI. Born in Mt.Clemens and raised in the U.P. The Wings have always been my team even before they started winning! I think the team is pretty good, just a few games that didn't go our way. Don't give up hope yet as the season is long. My friends and family back in MI need them to not be complete crap like the lions and tigers. After being a lions fan for 38 years (I have fond memorie of cutting firewood out at camp with my dad and listening to Billy Sims run on the truck radio) Of course they never went anywhere. I'm happy to say 2 years ago I quit them lions and even though my Titans didn't make it this year, I still feel so much better. I'm quite certain I'll leave this world a Wings fan. They've given us such awesome years, I could go another 40 year drought, but I sure don't wanna!

  8. Seattle Andy: I can't BELIEVE your Avs! I really, truly expected another "rebuilding" sorta year, but they're playing their assess off, to good effect. Thanks for the non-supportive support. ;-)

    Loosyanna Andy: I'm in agreement witcha on all counts. Too bad your Tigers are playing at 1300 ET tomorrow... coz there's one helluva hockey game on at the same time.

    Jimmy: Your Flyers have been underperforming this year, and I know it has to be driving you nuts. I could live with a 50-game season.

    Jim: YES!

    Sansietch: Thanks for dropping by! I came to the Wings relatively late in life when I moved to Dee-troit in the mid-80s. Like you, I've been a fan even when they weren't winning and I'll be a fan for life. Or for what's left of it, anyhoo!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.