For anyone who gives a flying fuck about the Red Wings, here’s my take:
The reality is that the Wings are 6 points back (with a game in hand) of the 3 spot in the Atlantic division with 17 games remaining. “Moe-ray-al” is 3rd with 77 points and 66 GP. Detroit sits in 5th (9th in the conference) with 71 points and 65 GP.
The Wings are laughably devastated by injuries. As it stands (before tonight, which you can add another 10 MGL to that total), the Wings are 2nd in the NHL with 286 Man Games Lost. That’s almost 5 men down a game. It’s ridiculous. More importantly, it’s the quality of the injured players moreso than the quantity. The likes of Zetterberg and Datsyuk have missed significant time this year (and are basically done for the regular season), while Franzen and Howard have been watching from home more often than they’d like or expect. In case you didn’t know, they’re the four best players on the team. Ouch.
It sucks, but that’s hockey sometimes. Fortunately, there’s some silver lining, a silky blanket to defend why I think the Wings will finish as a 7 seed or better in the conference.
There’s only three games remaining where the Wings are seemingly outmatched (At Chi, home against Boston, and at St. Louis). They may even steal a couple of those as they’ve beaten Chicago, albeit in a shootout, and they play Boston well. The secondary, role playing guys like Abby, Alfie, and Bert need to be better, and they generally are better. I’m a bit concerned, but sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. Alfie’s due for some points soon, and he’s proven he can score in long stretches this season.
Franzen has stepped it up lately. He’s been scoring at will the past couple weeks, and has been a key offensive player, which he needs to be without Z and Pasha.
“The Kids,” as Mickey Redmond would say, have been fantastic (though Jurco now has what looks like a rib injury, no call for the crosscheck that hurt him, OF COURSE). If they keep it up, they’ll greatly improve Detroit’s playoff chances. I mean, how many times can Tatar get robbed of goals by nothing short of career making, brilliant saves before he finally goes off? He’s due for something special down the stretch. He’s getting 5-7 shots, I mean quality shots, a game lately. Sometimes the puck just doesn’t find the mesh.
Finally, they’re the fucking Red Wings. Their fans were having an eerily similar conversation last year. Lots of injuries. Being out of the playoffs for stretches of time. Howard sucking until the last 3 weeks of the season. Then they came within one fluke OT goal of going to the conference finals against the eventual Stanley Cup champs, AFTER beating the highly touted 2 seed Ducks. They’ve weathered this storm before. They’ve stared the demon of defeat in the eye, and they overcame. Babcock is a godsend, and if the Wings do overcome and make the playoffs, he deserves coach of the year. It’s incredible that they’re still even in it.
So yes, I think the Wings will be in the playoffs, and guess what? By the time the weather gets better and warm breezes start flowing in Detroit, Z will be back. Pavel will be back. ________ < insert any name here will be back. The timing seems right for a playoff push, and after all, they're the Wings. If any team can pull this off, they can.
Let’s go boys.
P.S. – Pistons, please do us all a favor and win at losing. Tank, for the love of the Bad Boys, tank. KTHXBAI