Thursday, October 15, 2009

Red Wings Need Scoring, Goaltending Help (And Can't Do Much About It)

The Red Wings have had a rough start to the season. After going 0-2 in Sweden (a "home" team for many on the squad) to the resurgent Blues, the Wings put a nice game together against the loaded Blackhawks. Then, the wheels fall off and they lose Johan Franzen till at least March (maybe the season) and Osgood gets shelled against the Sabres. The offensive juggernaut the Sabres are, I began to realize we might be seeing a team in much more trouble then we think. A lot of people seem to have forgotten how poorly Osgood played last season. He got sent home to work with a goalie coach while Ty Conklin (now a Blue) carried the torch (as he did for Penguins in 07-08 when Fleury was out). Jimmy Howard obviously isn't the long term answer in net either as a backup or starter. If Osgood gets hurt, the Wings will be in a world of hurt. A veteran goaltender would be a solid pick up now that we know for sure Howard can't handle starting duties. If he turns it around, I'll be as happy as anyone, but now it sure does not look like it.

Johan Franzen's loss is extremely painful. With no real room under the cap to get another scorer (or keep the ones they already had last season)the offense could be hurting bad. Holmstrom is aging pretty quickly, Zetterberg and Datsyuk can only go so far and Betruzzi is not going to find any magic. Hes a solid inexpensive pickup that I like (especially on the Power Play) and it is nice to get some of our Griffins to play in the big leagues. Developing young players is going to be huge in the New NHL and the cap.

The Wing's biggest problem is probably going to be the penalty kill. They were 75% last year with a Hall of Famer playing most of the time. Lilja may be done for his career, which is sad because he finally made some strides last year. Jakub Kindl is not Babcock's kind of player and Ericsson has been surprisingly well. Still, that is not enough to carry any team into the Stanley Cup with less scoring and only can kill 3 out 4 PP.

The wheels are not falling off anything. The Wings are loaded with talent and can reload after almost any year. The hangover from losing the Cup in 7 games is tough and the injuries are pretty abundant for Detroit. Yet I still believe the team can go far in the playoffs, if they make the right moves. Maybe its lineup shuffling, maybe its a call up, maybe its a trade. Whatever the case, I just don't feel too confident in this version of the Red Wings, with a loaded Chicago, solid Columbus and St Louis and pesky Predators breathing down our neck more than ever.

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