Detroit Red Wings weekly: Sour sendoff to Sochi

The points were there to be had, but with three minutes left in the third… they evaporated away.

detroit red wings

Datsyuk’s return helped Alfredsson move past Nicklas Lidstrom for the 2nd most NHL points accumulated by a Swedish born player. (Photo Credit: Mike Carlson / Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings (26-20-12) 4-2 lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday ended what could have been a perfect three win week and a triumphant way to head into the Olympics. But here we are instead. Disappointed and left with this sour taste in our mouths.

However, it’s not as bad as it might seem and my plus/minus report will explain why.

The Pluses

+ Creating Chances

This past week the Red Wings battled with three hot goaltenders on top of their game: Eddie Lack, Tim Thomas, and Ben Bishop. All of them even earned stars after the game for their efforts. So, how did the Wings manage to beat two of them (and almost all three)? Because they continued to create quality scoring chances.

There were more point blank shot attempts and breakaways this week than I can remember the Wings ever having in a stretch of three games. The passing within the offensive zone was crisp and the cycling of the puck around the boards led to centering passes to wide open scorers in front of the net. From my perspective, this week was one of the few times all season that we saw the Red Wings’ brand of hockey we are all familiar with.

The chemistry finally clicked. It’s just too bad they will probably have to find it all over again when they return to action in two weeks.

+ Playoff Picture

NHL Standings

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

The Red Wings have 24 games left (11 home and 13 away). They have been better on the road (15-9-4) than at home (11-11-8), so that’s a good sign.

15 of the games will come against teams currently occupying a playoff spot (10 of which are from the Eastern Conference). So, they still have control of their own destiny. Although the downside to this is that the competition isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

Finally, they have history and tradition on their side. Making the playoffs 22 consecutive times isn’t a fluke. Yes, there is pressure on them to keep the streak alive. But they have been through this before (just last season) so they know how to handle the imminent pressures that comes with the territory.

As “bad” as this season has been so far, if the Wings can make it into the playoffs all of that will be forgotten.

The Minuses

- Hockey is a Game of Inches, Too

All it takes is an errant pass, a bad deflection, or a crazy bounce to change the outcome of a hockey game. With how fast the game is being played nowadays, a simple mental mistake is more costly than ever. All it takes is one man, the goalie, to prevent a bad decision from turning into a goal.

The Wings saw both sides of that cruel spectrum last week. Therefore, I have to give credit where credit is due. The Lightning fought and got the lucky bounces needed to win. Even though, in all fairness, the Wings probably deserved at least a point for their performance in that game. But, life isn’t always fair.

+/- Rating = +1

The loss last night stings, but overall it was still a good week.

Now we can begin to look forward to the festivities ahead.

The Red Wings will have 11 representatives in Sochi, including head coach Mike Babcock who will be coaching the Canadian Olympic team. The other Wings making the trip are –

Sweden: Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jonas Gustavsson. Slovakia: Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco. Russia: Pavel Datsyuk. USA: Jimmy Howard.

Here’s their upcoming schedule.

Warning: Set your alarm clock or DVR if you’re planning on watching any of them play this week.

detroit red wings

At least one Red Wing will be playing on any given day once the competition kicks off on Wednesday.

I wish the guys going the best of luck. Hockeytown will be watching the event closely.

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  • 547984

    What do you think of Babcock’s lines after Datsyuk’s return, with him not breaking up Zet-Goose-Abdelkader, and with Pavel, Tatar, and Alfie on the second line. Do you agree?

    • http://isportsweb.com/author/eisen/ Alex Eisen

      I thought it was a great decision. (And it was Helm not Tatar on that 2nd line.)

      The 1st line was playing well together and the “kids” line of Sheahan-Tatar-Jurco, although inexperience, are creating many scoring chances with their speed and creativity. So, putting Pav with two guys (Alfie and Helm) that were struggling to get going a bit only made sense to me.

      Why mess with lines that aren’t broken?