Monday, February 18, 2013

Babcock Bashers Need to Chill

There's no denying the fact that the 2013 edition of the Detroit Red Wings are not what we've grown accustomed to in the last 20-plus years.  Actually, I find myself often asking who the heck these guys are who are posing as the Red Wings. 

They're not particularly explosive on offense, they turn the puck over in their own zone way too often, they are average (at least I keep telling myself they are) defensively, their powerplay is more of an advantage for the opposition (lead the league in SH goals allowed), are not mentally tough, cannot protect leads, go in spells where they make fans yawn with their play and due to the never ending rash of injuries: they look more like the Grand Rapids Griffins. 

Mike Babcock's bunch has been about as pleasurable to watch as a colonoscopy most of the season and it has prompted many fans to think he's worn out his welcome in Detroit and should be fired....I am not one of those fans.

Before we even look at this season, the injuries, etc.; let's just remember he is not the man whom provided the groceries.  I would argue he wasn't given all the ingredients to truly bake a good cake (At least not one that many would ask for a second slice of).

The best defenseman of all time (not arguably, he is) retired and that void was not adequately replaced.  It's that simple.  The damage wasn't even adequately mitigated.  If you were jumping for joy when Carlo Colaiacovo was signed you might just be an extreme homer.  I puked in my mouth a little.  Sorry for that visual but I felt saying I was underwhelmed by that signing just doesn't do my disdain for it the proper justice. 

Couple that with the departure and subsequent lack of replacement of Brad Stuart and you have a black hole for a blue line.  Huskins has been decent when called upon but he is a definite downgrade from Stuart. 

We won't even talk about the human tree stump known as Kyle Quincey.  That can be a separate blog in itself.

Also, as I have stated before, the team has lacked a true goal scorer since 2009.  That hole has not been plugged either and Samuelsson isn't the answer.  No matter how much you or the team wants to believe he is, he just isn't.  Thus, we will continue to see the inconsistent (that would be actually welcomed this season) powerplay and offensive production we have seen the past few seasons.  Franzen has proven he can't shoulder the load and needs help (and also some milk so he can actually stay in the lineup).

I'm not bagging on Holland (I have done that enough) I am just stating the ugly truth.  The roster that was constructed has major weaknesses.

The roster that was put together was going to be spotty and inconsistent as is with not much depth to overcome many injuries.  Well, they have been the antithesis of healthy.  Helm, Franzen, Bertuzzi, Mursak, Gustavsson, Smith, Samuelsson, Colaiacovo and Datsyuk have all missed time already.  Many have and will miss significant time.  This has prompted constant roster and line shuffling, zero continuity, lack of chemistry and insertion of young players in key roles.  Basically, an already middle-of-the-pack squad has been reduced to a team that has to scratch and claw to beat even the weakest teams in the league.

The eroding roster and injuries aside, the schedule has been grueling.  They've been playing games to the tune of four in six nights, multiple back-to-back games and the like.  For a veteran team that is no easy task.

All of the above is a recipe for a disaster.  Many teams would be touting a losing record and floundering.  Although Mike Babcock doesn't have them setting the world on fire right now, he still has maneuvered them to a 7-6-2 record and tied for the last playoff spot.  Prior to this recent three game skid they were in the middle of the conference (7-3-2) at the fifth spot. 

He has them battling each and every night.  They simply do not have the firepower to compete with the better teams or handle the bottom feeders comfortably right now.  If Datsyuk, Zetterberg, or Brunner don't carry the team on a given night the odds that they will lose are pretty high.  It is going to be this way until some of the troops return to the lineup.  Until then, the best Mike Babcock can do is have them scrap for ugly wins and hope to stay in the thick of a playoff race.  In that regard, he has been just fine.

The bottom line is I am not sure even the great Scotty Bowman could do much more with the current Red Wings than Mike Babcock already is.  Babs is regarded as one of the best in the biz and is maybe doing some of his best coaching of his career.  Those who can't see that either have never really been a Babcock fan to begin with or are just looking for a scapegoat.  I think with the underwhelming offseason(s), the injuries, the condensed schedule, lack of training camp and the rest of the craziness that is the 2013 NHL season; Babcock has done his job admirably.  And he still has the best hair in all of hockey.

Be careful what you wish for Red Wings fans.  We saw what a poor coaching hire can do with a STACKED team (Dave Lewis).  We have a good one in place with Mike Babcock and it would be a shame to see him leave due to circumstances that are beyond his control and run the risk of bringing in a mediocre coach.  To be blunt, THOSE WHO WANT HIM FIRED NEED TO CHILL!


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