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A sign of things to come?

By: Channing Cummins

Don't look now but on Monday night the Red Wings were able to win their third straight game beating the Coyotes 3-2. With one more win the Wings will have the longest winning streak of the year, 4. Obtaining these two crucial points put the Wings into the final playoff spot. This is the highest rank the Red Wings have virtually had all YEAR. Yes, it's still early but when was the last time the Wings found themselves fighting to stay in the hunt? With the team possibly turning their season around, many Detroit fans have to wonder if the team can keep it up.

First, we have to focus on the more positive things that have happened as of late. The most obvious thing is we're winning games. Although two of the wins were in O.T. we still count them as wins. In fact, the Wings have managed to win six out of their last eight.

Another positive is we're getting goals from what seems to be every member on the team. Personally it's hard to remember a time when the entire team was counted on to score goals and all four lines were held responsible. Last nights game was no exception. Kris Newbury earned his first goal of the year on the first goal of the game. This would be redemption for him after taking two penalties in the first period. Derek Meech's first goal of the year along with Eaves' third of the year provided the other two goals in the Wings' win. In fact, not one first liner obtained a point in the game. Fans have to feel better with the emergence of Todd Bertuzzi in the last few games. Providing four goals in two games, along with both game winners, seems to be a sign that Bertuzzi is starting to turn things around. Many feel that if he can keep it up this would help the team tremendously.

Goaltending as of late has proved to be another strong point in our recent streak. During the last five games the Wings have allowed no more than two goals in either game. In previous years this would almost guarantee a win for the team but now not so much. Fans have to admit that Jimmy Howard has stepped it up and has earned the starting spot over Chris Osgood. With exception for a few games, Howard has proved to be a solid goalie over the year. Yes, he's not GREAT and yes he has let in weak goals but remember this is the first time he's been able to get quality time. Will he be the future goaltender for years to come, we may never know.

The negatives have proved to be a thorn in our a** and it seems the team is almost fighting a curse. The obvious problem we face is injuries. With Ericsson going down last night and possibly for weeks to come, the team is put in a tough spot. Currently, the Wings are missing six of their players due to injury and are forced to play younger players. The Red Wings are seemingly starting to make a transition to the Grand Rapids Griffins. It seems like each and every game the team hopes for a win just as much as a healthy team. If the injuries continue to take a toll the Wings could be sitting on a losing streak rather than a winning streak.

Poor defense has also proved to be a concern for the team. Yes, injuries have had an effect on the D but the line has to be drawn somewhere. In previous years the team along with fans were surprised if they were outshot let alone it was even close. Against the Coyotes last night the two teams tied when it came to shots with 32. The Red Wings managed to be outshot in two of the three periods as well. Poor play has also been a concern for the D. Several plays seem to be avoidable if the defenseman had put his stick on the ice or not turned the puck over. Limiting these mistakes are going to prove to be key as they try to move forward.

Another concern for fans should be the curse. When I say "curse" I'm making reference to all the unusual things we have seen this year. The injury problem is starting to become a joke. It seems like every night the team hits the ice they leave with one less player due to injury. Fans have to have a sense of nervousness each time their team takes the ice. Fluke goals have also lent a hand in the curse. I can't remember the amount of goals I've seen this year where I was left wondering "HOW?" Deflections along with strange bounces have resulted in a number of goals that have gone in causing confusion this year. Goal posts have also proved to become a second goaltender this year. It seems like everytime we have a goalie beat it's followed by a loud PING and we're left heart broken once again.

The main concern I have and what might be the deciding factor this year is the play of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. These two players are without a doubt the power of our team. They are there to provide scoring along with strong defense. Although they've been providing assists the goals just aren't there. I know for a fact that if the Wings want to keep on winning they're going to need these two players to contribute. The effort is there so I predict it's only a matter of time before the two start to produce.

Here we are 33 games in and currently occupying the 8th spot in the conference. Not where the team would like to be but possibly better off than we could be. With key players out and young players in, the future is highly unpredictable. What we do know is the Wings will strive to produce wins and the effort will always be there. Tradition will always push these players harder and strong coaching will point them in the right direction.

Is this recent win streak a sign of things to come? We'll have to wait and find out.

1 comment:

  1. Great article with many good points. It seems the "curse" as you call it continues too... Losing Z last night against Tampa Bay was a crucial loss along with all the other's piled up. Hopefully the news from the MRI comes back relatively positive. If Helm is not able to go Saturday, I wonder who they are going to call up. It seems almost like Kirk Maltby needs to be a 20 goal scorer now (I misplaced my magic lamp, so this won't happen) for this team to succeed.

    I think a good point also would be coaching. I think Mike Babcock is a hell of a coach. If he can get us through the next few months with a respecatble record, I think he further solidifies himself as probably the best coach in the league. But like you said, Time Will Tell.

    I look forward to your articles in the future.