Maybe it’s because it’s a shorter season, but the Detroit Red Wings seem to be under the microscope more than usual. Granted, it’s been that way since the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
And maybe it’s because it’s a shorter, more under-the-gun season, but the Red Wings seem to be having a very up and down season, even nineteen games into it. Granted, the last few years have had many ups and downs, so this isn’t anything new.
And maybe it’s just because “Doom And Gloom” by the Rolling Stones has been stuck in my head for the past five days. So don’t mind if I use some of the song lyrics to dissect the season so far.
While the season so far is not quite a series of blunderous misadventures, it has had its moments. Fans have yet to grow used to the ups and downs of this team. With 22 consecutive years making the playoffs (and four Stanley Cup titles in that time), it’s hard to come down to earth.
If you’re a fan like me, you keep your eyes on the weekly power rankings, both at TSN and ESPN (and sometimes NHL, but not very often). If I may quote the Rolling Stones, “All I hear is doom and gloom.” And rightly so. The Red Wings started the season out with very little offense, terrible defense, and a split record. The only players that seemed to show up were Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, the emerging Damien Brunner, and Jimmy Howard (though he was mostly hung out to dry).
Then, there were those games that made us swell with pride and wipe the fears from our minds. The first game of the season versus the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings, resulted in a game-winning goal for the Red Wings with just over four seconds left in the third period, and scored by Jonathan Ericsson, no less! The total stomping of the Vancouver Canucks in an 8-3 victory. A 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators. Repayment against the St. Louis Blues for their trouncing of the Red Wings in the season opener.
Twenty games into this 48 game season, the Red Wings currently sit fourth in the Western Conference, tied in points with Nashville. If the playoffs started today, they would face the Predators – with home ice advantage for the first time in a handful of postseasons.
And yet even in this position, if you watch Twitter feeds, if you look at comments on articles or anything that involves fans’ opinions, everything still spells doom and gloom because of the inconsistencies.
The players fans expected (or hoped) to actually do something (Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson, to name only a few) have either been injured or completely nonexistent. The team has yet to score a power play goal on the road. The penalty kill is getting better, but it’s still pretty darn terrible (and missing a guy like Darren Helm definitely doesn’t help).
Let’s not even get into the defensive situation or we will be here for quite a long time. Let’s just leave it as Ian White needs to listen to Theodore Roosevelt and speak softly, and carry a big stick, because his comments to the press are not helping him.
Most fans knew that with the departure of Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings would not be that elite team they have been for the past two decades. It’s even been waning in recent years, but this is the first season where people are concerned with every passing game whether the team will make it into the playoffs. Having a five-way points tie for sixth place certainly doesn’t help, either.
But there are changes that definitely need to be made in the off-season or at the trade deadline. The inconsistencies this team has do not make for a Cup contender of a team. However, it seems as though fans are not gunning for the title as much as in past years; if the team can just make the playoffs, we will be happy enough.
Twenty games into the season, with a 10-8-3 record and 23 points, sitting in fourth place in the West, the Detroit Red Wings are a different team than fans are used to seeing. They are not the best in the West nor the East, but are very middle of the road.
Twenty games into the season, there is still much that can happen in the remaining 28 games. It’s not all doom and gloom like the Stones say, but it’s safe to say that there are some serious concerns in the fanbase.