Firstly, clearly I have been M.IA. from DearRedWings.com for the past few weeks.
This is something I hope can change during the next few weeks.
Secondly, there is a lot to address about the current crisis that the Detroit Red Wings face. Injury after injury, and it just keeps getting worse.
First it was Mike Modano. Then it was Pavel Datsyuk. Then, before Mickey Redmond can say "holy jumpin," Daniel Cleary is on IR during quite arguably his best season -- maybe ever -- and Joey MacDonald is being backed up by Todd Bertuzzi -- yeah, that happened.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings are quietly sitting in first place in the Central Division and second place in the Western Conference. Crisis averted? Well, one can only marvel at the way this season is unfolding. It's eerily familiar to last year, and at the same time totally different.
Somehow this team is forcing overtimes and getting ridiculously timely goal scoring from some otherwise shy players -- such as Drew Miller. If you did not see Miller's shorthanded goal from the past weekend, go check it out. Steven Stamkos beware.
Coach Mike Babcock has been his usual self in terms of conversing with the media, saying the Wings need to get better defensively, and consequently throwing one of the more talented blue line groups in the league under the proverbial bus. One has to love the man's honesty.
Babcock is right. The Wings may be leading the NHL in goals for -- a statistic which frankly shocked me -- but their 131 goals against is nothing to be impressed by.
Defense is something that has definitely been trending in the wrong direction since last season for the mighty Red -- I just made that up, maybe it will catch on. It is quite baffling to see that one of the most hailed defensive and puck-possession teams in the history of the sport finding itself among the more scored on teams in the league.
Where does one point the finger?
As I have said many, many times, I would point nowhere else bu transition: Breaking out of the defensive zone and crossing into the offensive zone. This team struggles with both. It is frustrating to see such a talented squad break down in transition so routinely. Turnover after turnover. NHL teams are way too desperate to miss gift-wrapped opportunities -- the Red Wings should know as well as anyone.
Turnovers in the offensive zone include, but are not exclusive to, blocked shots and air-pucks, as I like to call them -- an air-puck is of course "missing the net."
The solution has to lie in the coach's hands. Babcock must realize this epic fail -- sorry for the banned word.
On the horizon are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby is a god, the NHL said. But now, I must agree. He has 32 goals for 66 points in 41 games this season. Those are pre-lockout numbers. Those are 1980s numbers -- OK, maybe not that good.
The Wings will have to represent the Western Conference in this one without most of their money, A.K.A. talent.
I look forward to Tuesday night.