After last night’s subpar performance in Anaheim Mike Babcock summed up my sentiments exactly when he stated that Detroit “looked exactly like we did tonight in the first 20 or 25 games of the season.” Unfortunately, the April 30th Red Wings looked eerily similar to the January 30th Red Wings… not a good sign.
What did the January 30th Red Wings have in common with the team you saw last night? Well, through the majority of the regular season (the final week excluded) the Wings deficiencies have included:
A) Spending way too much time defending below the goal line in their own zone.
B) Struggling to make a good first pass and exit the d-zone quickly.
C) Consistently losing the special teams battles.
D) Not producing more than 1 or 2 goals on a lot of nights.
E) Lacking secondary scoring.
I guess we simply wanted to believe the Wings had purged themselves of these issues during their 4 game winning streak last week that earned them a 22nd consecutive playoff appearance. Yet, this does not appear to be the case because in Game 1 all of those problems the Wings endured throughout the regular season reared their ugly head once again.
And, this is why you have to believe there will be changes coming to the lineup when the Wings take the ice for a pivotal Game 2 in California Thursday night. For a team struggling to find offense it seems like now would be the time to insert proven point producers Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi back into the lineup.
Granted, I recognize it’s a lot to ask of two players who have not played a lot of hockey this season to come into the lineup in Game 2 of the playoffs and make an immediate impact on the score sheet… but that’s the reality of the situation the Wings are facing. Detroit needs offense and Samuelsson and Bertuzzi have track records that say they can provide that secondary scoring the Wings desperately need. If you’re Mike Babcock now is the time to give them a shot.
If Detroit decides to make a change on defense I think you might see Carlo Colaiacovo replace either Brendan Smith or Kyle Quincey. Colaiacovo is a veteran player who gives the Wings another defender with prior playoff experience who can skate and move the puck.
Projected Game 2 Line-up