Red Wings Rollin’

The Kids keep going

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

Nyquist-Zetterberg-Jurco

Tatar-Datsyuk-Helm

Franzen-Sheahan-Weiss

Miller-Glendening-Andersson

Cleary/Abdelkader

In conclusion: Gatoraide cures hangovers.

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Realizations – Coaches Edition

Babcock just chillin on the bench. Lookin' good doing it though

Babcock just chillin on the bench. Lookin’ good doing it though

Babcock. King of Analogies. The ones that don’t make sense that is. I think we need to start compiling a list eventually here. I mean, it’s just getting out of hand. Piano’s, pies, cakes, hats, banana’s, the things he’s used never ends, or makes sense when referring to hockey. It’s at least more imaginative than his nicknaming system. I mean…”Clears” instead of “Cleary”? That’s the same length. Just shorten that guy up and add a “y” or “s” to the end. Unless you’re super awesome and get “Pasha” or “Z” or “Kronner”.

We’ll get back to Babcock in a minute. Monday night, I had a fantastic night out with friends. First real time I got almost all my friends together and got stupid since I started my 3rd shift job in July. Being the hardcore person I am, I was of course decked out in Red Wings gear. I managed to run into some fellow hockey fans while I was out, but most were the typical “My team can do no wrong” type. However, I did meet one nice lady that shared my view of professional sports – Support the crap out of your team, but appreciate the fact that there are things they can, and do, do wrong. Our conversation was short, but enlightening. Who would’ve thought you could get that from a female Blackhawks fan? Blew my mind.

During this conversation, she of course brought up the preseason (therefore not as meaningful) spankings that Chicago has bestowed upon the Wings. She questioned the readiness of the team. We were not prepared. Babcock admitted this, fans admitted, this, players admitted this. I’ve heard this all before. In fact, I’ve heard it so many times the last 3 seasons, I can’t count the number of times. I’m sure we’re near 82 games of the last 3 regular seasons where the team has admitted that they were flat. Didn’t play 60 minutes of hockey. Or 50, or 40. In fact, it seems we’re lucky go get 30 minutes of good hockey a game. That is terrible. It’s switched all over the board. Can’t start the game well, can’t finish, lose it in the second, start of periods, ends of them.

We have motivation issues. Everyone knows Franzen has issues. Filppula never reached expectations but is so-far playing better than he ever did for Detroit now he’s somewhere else. Brunner took games off. Our top 6 has struggled hard the last 3 seasons with only Zetterberg and Datsyuk never taking a night off, and Helm when he’s there. Babcock keeps saying he doesn’t know why we weren’t ready to play.

Can we stop and think about this for a second. Arguably the best coach in the NHL, Mike Babcock, does not know why his team is flat. Unmotivated. I can understand if this is an occasional occurrence, but when it’s becoming a regular occurrence, but it’s not understandable anymore. Where are these issues coming from? What’s going on? Could it be Babcock’s distance from the team? He’s been detatched from the players for a while now. Letting players take time off for the birth of their child, then a month later, doing it again saying “He didn’t realize before he just wanted to go visit his wife”. Saying the press he hasn’t talked to his players that are injured, doesn’t know their status, just says “I didn’t see him in practice, so I guess he’s not ready”. List goes on. I’m not an NHL coach, so maybe that is the norm, but when I coached I had much more of an idea what’s going on with my players. He only has 23 players, and  he is their ultimate leader.

Maybe it’s his hands off coaching style. What hands off coaching style? He stated many times at how these guys are professionals and should know what is expected of them, he doesn’t need to tell them. He does. That’s why he’s one of the highest paid coaches ever. He relied on his veterans to coach the team so much, I’m not sure what he’s done. We’ve all seen him call a time out and then have the players run the huddle while he stands back.

It is the job of the head coach of a professional NHL team to instruct his players on what to do, what is expected of them, and most importantly, get them motivated and prepared for game day. That is the sole purpose of their job. Motivated and prepared for game day. Motivate. Why do the Wings constantly come out flat and unmotivated? It can be reasoned (but not proven) that Babcock is not performing his job well enough.

From my elitist, spoiled Red Wings fan, outside point of view, I think Babcock has lost control of his team. He needs to get involved, lay down the ban-hammer, and earn the respect of his players back. They have clearly lost respect for him. I do think Babcock is one of the best coaches in the world today, but I think he has gotten complacent. How long will we let his trend continue? In my lowly opinion, for the good of the Red Wings, if we continue to play flat on a semi-consistent basis…we need a change behind the bench.

I hope I put these thoughts together semi-coherently and in a way that makes this a viable argument instead of just a ranting. It is 5:30am. I welcome your thoughts and discussion here and on Twitter @motownmayhem13

Oh, Disciple has a pretty beard. Ask him to show you sometime.

Indecision 2013

Comedy Central maaaaay sue us, but whatever, it’s not an election year. Hey, did you guys see what Cowboy posted the other day? Pretty good stuff, right? Except for his nonsensical fancy for Sammy over Beardtuzzi. I’m going to offer my rebuttal to Cowboys post about who stays and who goes. I think he’s pretty right on about a lot of it, but I have a few changes I’d like to see vs what i think will actually happen.

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Guys, It’s OK!!

Hey, guys! Everyone still alive out there? Nobody’s tried to form cults, hide in Afghani caves or cancel their cable? Judging from the public reaction eight games into the season, you’d figure the sky was falling. So, just step back from the ledge, climb inside and lets high five repeatedly for no apparent reason because high fives solve EVERYTHING. If only it were that easy you’d see Holland and Babcock with sore hands.

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