Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question and I kind of feel like an ass writing this two days after his father passed away and the day of his father’s funeral. BUT! I’ve had a lot of thoughts about the “best coach in the NHL” which were further exacerbated by the hilarity that was the game last night. So we’ll dive right in and discuss my thoughts on Mr. Babcock
Well, it’s been a while. Since we’ve seen this level of play from the Wings, since I’ve posted anything, and since I thought Babcock and Abdlekader should go somewhere else. How bout we take a quick look at how things have changed and what’s been happening.
Rewind to the off season, July thru…pre-pre-season? Is that a thing. It is now. There was a lot of distaste in my heart surrounding my beloved Wings. No real moves were made, Cleary was re-signed, everyone was talking about bringing Alfie back, fans screaming for Mantha to make yet-again over committed roster. Looking at our line-up at that time, I thought things looked bleak. Our defense was best described as “meh” and our forwards looked like there would be scoring issues, with Babcock making the lines.
However, then, my negative outlook started to get more positive, as Babcock allowed youth to flourish. Giving faith and opportunity to the young forwards, desiring young defensemen like Oullet and Sproul make the lineup. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the defensemen he wanted, but there was still hope that Babcock stopped his hatred of anyone under 33 years of age.
Fast forward 10 games into the season…
The Red Wings defense and goaltending was performing better than anyone expected. Looking solid. The penalty kill on fire, and things back there looked very good, promising more than most die-hard fans could have hoped for. However good the defense played, we couldn’t score enough to win a game. It felt like every game we went into overtime. Our forwards looked like how it was feared, unable to score consistently. Datsyuk and Helm were in injury trouble, and Nyquist was our only shining star. Franzen peeked his head out for a second there somewhere, but then disappeared again, as he does. Tatar, Sheahan, and Jurco were struggling not just to score, but to even make a difference. Our power play was laughable, and no one knew what the heck they were doing out there in the slightest. Then, in the midst of it all, something broke.
Looking at it now, over my plate of crow, I think it was…this is hard to admit for me…Abdlekader…that started it all. He started playing well. Very, very well, actually, far better than I thought he could. Tatar found the net and didn’t stop. Sheahan seemed to wake up. Helm and Datsyuk got healthy again, eventually. Then the Wings power play snapped and figured out what they are doing, and are now one of the best teams in the NHL on the power play.
When Datsyuk and Helm came back, they started scoring and improving everyone around them. Weiss finally paid someone in an alley for a new groin, and he immediately started lighting the lamp. Now, with our lines forwards scoring, our defense holding on, the Wings are in the top 5 of the NHL. We have 3 potent scoring lines, like our Cup years. The fourth line is chipping in offensively and smother teams defensively, and Babcock is able to, and actually does, trust them to play in every situation of every game. Just like our Cup years. I’m not making predictions here. I’m simply here to say that I have been proven wrong by Babcock this year. And I’m loving it.
I credit Babcock’s change of heart when it comes to youth, and Datsyuk’s ability to keep his youth, for our successes. Not to mention the continued good play of our defense.
Look at these lines and tell me they are not drool-worthy
In conclusion: Gatoraide cures hangovers.
I’m not sure if this sounds like the best ride ever, given the approximate beauty of most Swedish women, or the most horrifying ride ever because: Johan Franzen. There’s also a concussion joke in there somewhere I’m sure. But that’s why we are here today, concussions. They’re the worst.
The good news? Joakim Andersson was activated off of IR and is available for tonight’s game. The bad news? Johan Franzen has been placed back on IR because his post-concussion symptoms showed back up after one game. The double-whammy bad news? Because of this we now have another spot open and Cleary will again be in the lineup. I don’t like this. We need Franzen back and we need Cleary out of the line-up.
This is the only change for tonight, as of right now. You have Andersson taking Franzen’s spot on the first line at the moment so the lines look like this:
Defense is the same.
I’ll update this as more info becomes available.
This weekend was busy and I was just now able to catch up on the game against Florida. It’s a little frustrating to see the whole “blow a two goal lead late in a game especially against Florida” thing pop back up but at the end of a five game home-stand against some really good teams, you had to expect a little bit of a let down. The encouraging thing about it was that Detroit was in the lead for a large portion of the game and the second period and most of the third was magnificent. Let’s jump in it!
Babcock, as well as pretty much everyone who has watched the Wings play the last few weeks, absolutely loves the way the “kid” line has been playing. Sheahan, Jurco and Tatar have developed quite a good bit of chemistry and are playing very well every single game. Sheahan has proven that he belongs in the NHL and has been a two way force for much of his time up. Tatar is really showing what he can do. Good Lord is this kid fun to watch. He’s like a freakin’ bulldog out there, absolutely nasty on the puck and I really don’t think I’ve seen him take a shift off all year. Jurco shows flashes of brilliance but isn’t quite “there”. However, he’s played a very steady game and, while still learning, is proving his value to this club presently, not down the line. He’s played very physical and just needs to learn how to translate his offensive genius to this level of play. It’s there, just waiting to be released. These kids, along with Luke Glendening playing very steadily, have played so well that it’s forced Babcock to sit guys like Bertuzzi and Cleary (who was actually back in the Florida game because of Zetterberg being a late scratch.) It will be interesting to see what the team does here in the next few days with its roster. Bertuzzi and Cleary both have NTCs and are unlikely to waive them to be moved, but Babcock has made it clear that he wants to play the best players and right now, that means Tatar, Sheahan and Jurco > Bertuzzi, Cleary, Samuelsson.
Quick update on injuries and transactions:
Still no update on Datsyuk but you have to figure he’s getting closer and closer. Hopefully he’ll be back in the next game or so. Andersson could be ready on Tuesday in Philadelphia, which could force Holland’s hand early on making some roster moves.
Goalie Petr Mrazek was sent back to Grand Rapids as Detroit activated Jimmy Howard from IR who is ready to start or back up in Philly. Mrazek will get good starting time in Grand Rapids as the kid has proven he’s capable of being an NHL goalie and looks set to be the back up next year.
Gustav Nyquist was named the NHL’s second star this week, scoring 6 points (4-2-6) in 4 games with Detroit going 2-1-1 over that span.
Hai guys! You watch the game last night? That was fun, right? The funny thing, and it’s definitely attributed to how this season has gone, is how Wings fans reacted to winning our 2nd straight home game for only the second or third time this year. Who are we, the Islanders? Hell, they’ve done that more often this season than the Wings have. But that’s really not the point. The Wings have put together some solid efforts in three of their last four home games. The lone calamity came against St. Louis in an effort that many players agreed to just “flush”. We’ll talk about that a bit before I have to leave again (busy life), and talk about the Wings’ waiver transaction today that I’m sure most will be happy with.
The Wings won in a really good effort against a good but sliding Montreal team. They’ve now lost three in a row and are just three points up on Detroit for third in the division. If the Wings can win against Florida on Sunday and have a good showing against Philadelphia on Tuesday, it’ll go a long way to making up lost ground. Add to that the fact that we should be getting Franzen back for the game against Florida and possibly Andersson back in the next week and hopefully Datsyuk soon, and we could get rolling soon. Weiss is due back for the first game after the Olympic break so the Wings may finally get the roster they wanted to go with all season. Anyway, the game: Zetterberg, Nyquist, Kronwall and Sheahan all tallied goals. Sheahan’s was especially impressive. Everyone in the building voided their bowels upon seeing it. It was disgusting. I’ve been getting more and more impressed with Glendening’s game. He’s not going to score much, that’s a certainty, but he honestly reminds me of a combination of Draper and Maltby, but still without the offensive acumen. He’s got really good speed and has been getting especially efficient at getting under players’ skin without playing dirty. He’s got an edge to his game and he plays a fast, hard hitting game, but nothing dirty. I’m really loving it. He just needs to work on face-offs and he’ll be good to go.
Ok, and now the moment you’ve all been waiting for……THE WAIVER TRANSACTION!
If you’re reading this you probably already know but LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT. The Wings have placed forward Mikael Samuelsson on waivers this afternoon to make room for Johan Franzen. Samuelsson has been a healthy scratch for basically the whole year after losing his spot to Tomas Tatar around the 10th game. It’s been pretty telling, for some time, that Detroit has been calling up young guys to keep Samuelsson off the ice. The curious thing, now that they need a roster space, is they’ve opted to keep Jurco up for as long as they can and waive Samuelsson, who won’t offer anything in terms of cap relief. Because he signed a 35+ contract and the new CBA is weird about waiving players, his cap relief will only be $100 thousand so it doesn’t do anything to help our eventual cap issue, which we will have when Weiss comes off LTIR at the end of February. At any rate, I’m sure there was a joyful chorus from Wings Nation when the tweets started coming out that Detroit had waived Sammy. It was a long time coming and I hope he does get claimed, which will mean his entire cap hit comes off the books. I doubt that’ll happen, though.
Happy Saturday, guys. Enjoy your weekend and as always, GO WINGS!
Quick update for tonight’s game against the Canadians:
Babcock confirms that Daniel Alfredsson will be back in the lineup, tonight, after missing 6 games with lower back spasms. The wings will definitely welcome his leadership and offensive ability.
“It’s been really good three days of skating and no issues so I’m ready to go,” Alfredsson said. “It’s always frustrating to be out and now be able to skate like I have and have no issues it feels great actually.”
Babs is excited to get him back. So are we, Mike.
“Good to have him back; we just have to keep him healthy,” said Babcock. “He’s a smart player, knows how to play. Helmer’s line struggled last game, gives him a change. Helmer, Abby and Alfredsson were good together earlier in the year. I’ve got Cleary playing with Helmer and Alfie today and ideally that’ll give us a good line.”
I guess Babs is thinking Cleary and Abby play a similar game. Similar? Yes. Same worth? No
Alfredsson has gone 3 practices real hard and hasn’t had any issues so he looks to be good to go. With Alfie taking that spot on the third line, Bertuzzi will join Samuelsson and Kindl as healthy scratches and Gustavsson is back in net, according to Babcock. The kid line of Jurco, Sheahan and Tatar remain together after having a very good showing against Chicago. Seems Jurco has earned himself some extra time with Detroit.
Here’s the lines:
Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Tatar-Riley Sheahan-Tomas Jurco
Daniel Cleary-Darren Helm-Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller-Luke Glendening-Patrick Eaves
Niklas Kronwall-Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey-Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff-Brendan Smith
Jonas Gustavsson (starting)
Or is it just another “up” in a land of mountains and valleys? Yesterday, the wings managed to outplay Chicago and overcome deficits twice to win 5-4 in a shootout at JLA. Aside from nearly having a heart attack and passing out several times, the game was tremendously exciting. It was wide open at times, it was grinding at times and it was chippy at times. I laughed, they cried, and every passing car burst into flames. WINNER!