The Red Wings are in a state of emergency. One calamity after another has hit this team, starting with the Nicklas Lidstrom retirement.
In their latest fiasco, they took a quick 2-0 lead over the out-manned Blue Jackets and then staggered to a 3-2 loss Thursday night. As you would expect, coach Mike Babcock was none too pleased afterward.
“I thought we started good. I didn't like our second period in particular. I didn't even mind our third period, but the bottom line is we gave up two goals in the third period and we lost.
“We had to win here. It's just one of those games. You just gotta win. You gotta find a way to win home games, and now we've got two points out of a possible 10, and any way you look at it, that's a slippery slope. We can make all the excuses we want for ourselves. The bottom line is we had to find a way to win tonight.”
Let’s look at some of the particulars in Motown:
Detroit’s defense has taken one injury hit after another. Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) remains sidelined. Kyle Quincey was just the latest casualty, suffering an ankle sprain that will sideline him on a game-to-game basis. Brendan Smith (shoulder) could return next week, which will help immensely.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard returned from his dizzy spell, but he wasn’t nearly good enough – again. His 3.08 goals-against average and .896 save percentage are well off his career norm. Against Central Division teams this season he is 2-3-2 with miserable ratios (3.71, .869).
Goals from the offensive supporting cast have been scarce. The Red Wings need more from veterans Daniel Cleary (three points in 17 games) and Valtteri Filppula (nine points in 17 games). Long-term injuries to Mikael Samuelsson (finger) and Darren Helm (back) depleted the attack.
But considering all that they have been through – losing more than 100 man-games to injury, most in the NHL – it could be worse for the Red Wings.
“At the one-third pole, we're probably a couple of wins short of where we'd like to be, but there's some good stories going on,” general manager Ken Holland told Mlive.com. “I think we'll be a deeper team than we were a month ago.”
Fill-ins Brian Lashoff, Tomas Tatar, Joakim Anderson and Petr Mrazek came up from Grand Rapids to provide notable support. Holland may have more assets than he believes he had six weeks ago.
The Detroit Red Wings are starting to look like the Red Wings gain. Since opening with a 6-0 loss at St. Louis, they have gone 3-1-1 in their last five games.
“We weren't very competitive,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of that season opener. “Now we have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves six games later and see where we're at.”
The Red Wings are 2-0-1 in their last three games, with 10 goals scored. They have killed 14 of their last 16 penalties. Back in Game 1, the allowed four power-play goals.
Their home game tonight against the Blues will provide a barometer of their progress.
“I think we're doing the right things, it's starting to come together,” winger Todd Bertuzzi told the Detroit Free Press. “St. Louis is playing well -- they're big, they're strong, they're tough. We're going to have to match that.”
Forward Henrik Zetterberg is expected to play in this game after missing Thursday's practice with flu-like symptoms. But he Red Wings are still shorthanded. Key defenseman Ian White (leg gash) isn’t expected back until next week.
“I was actually hoping to play today because I was skating for a few days now, felt fine,'' White told MLive.com. “But then the doctor explained if you fall and that leg jack-knifes it'll blow everything up in there. I'm aiming for Tuesday, we'll see. It gets a little bit better every day and hopefully I'll be back then.”
Forwards Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jan Mursak (collarbone) are out for longer periods of time, as is defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder).
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