Monday, January 28, 2013

Wings Powerless Powerplay No Shock

I have held back drawing any real conclusions and/or blogging about the Red Wings until after a few games.  Well, it's been five games, the Wings sit 2-2-1, and I have seen enough to come to the conclusion that they have a God-awful powerplay.  However, unlike some, I am far from surprised let alone shocked.

The Red Wings are an abysmal 2-26 (7.7%) on the powerplay which is good enough (or bad enough) for the 28th spot in the NHL.  It feels so long ago when their play with a man advantage was considered the ultimate enforcer to those teams that tried to goon it up with the Wings and take liberties with their star players.  Now it appears every player is afraid to shoot, they do nothing but pass and wait for the perfect shot, give up a bevy of shorthanded chances, and they more times than not are one-and-done in the offensive zone.  They look downright spooked.  They look as scared as a teenage boy who is about to make out with a girl for the first time.

Many think this is a direct result of the retirements of Nick Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom.  Well, yes and no.  While it's true they miss Lidstrom's laser-like accuracy from the point and the unmatched goalie screening ability of Holmstrom, the powerplay ills were on display last season and at times in previous seasons post-2009. 

While it's true the Red Wings still have an abundance of offensively skilled forwards, they do not possess the true goal-scorer with the shooter's mentality AND the accurate shot (meaning Samuelsson does not fit the bill) needed to be a consistent scoring source.  Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Filppula, Bertuzzi are gifted players but they are creative passers (playmakers) first and goal-scorers second.  They always have been .  They had the likes of Hull, Shanahan, and Hossa in the past to dish the puck to and bury it in the net...CONSISTENTLY.  They miss that sniper dearly and have been since after Game 7 of the 2009 Finals when they essentially let Hossa walk in favor of Johan Franzen.

Speaking of the "Mule," he was supposed to be that next elite power forward.  That constant scoring threat.  He was supposed to be THE GUY.  With his size, skill, and wicked shot he is dominant when he uses all three elements...especially his size.  It seems that since he got his contract he has used his size less and less and has become a little bit of a floater.  His willingness to go to the net and get the dirty goals has become spotty.  To be nice, he's been very inconsistent.  It seems more and more evident that the decision to keep Franzen over Hossa was a mistake.  The Wings sorely miss Hossa's size, speed, shot, and compete level night in and night out.  This move was the beginning of the steady erosion of the Red Wings' roster.

You add the lack of sniper aspect with the fact that they have lost Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Stuart at the back end without adequately filling those voids and you get what you are seeing through five games which is a slow, stale and ineffective roster that struggles to score and looks inept on the powerplay.  None of the big departures have been significantly replaced.  Forgive me if I don't see Samuelsson, Tootoo, Colaiacovo, and Huskins (Hudler, Bertuzzi, and White in previous years) as adequate replacements for the aforementioned players.  Damien Brunner may end up being a consistent scorer but that still remains to be seen.  However, in the here and now, whether it is due to the inability or the refusal to spend the money and pay elite players market value, the fact is that putting band aids on bullet wounds finally has caught up to Ken Holland and the Wings.

Barring a significant move or moves to bring in a top six goal-scorer and/or a top four defenseman capable of quarterbacking a powerplay, do not expect the returns of Samuelsson, Colaiacovo, or Helm to suddenly turn the Wings' powerplay around.  They need some new blood and not an aging star who used to be good.  Not reclamation projects.  They need a difference-maker or maybe two.  The time is now for Ken Holland to be aggressive.  If not, this is going to be a long and agonizing season.

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