It may be time to start a full-fledged panic.
I'm that fan that tries to keep my panicking concentrated on playoff time and nothing else, but I can't deny that there are some extremely concerning issues right now.
And it's like The Production Line said yesterday, if we're freaking out over Ty Conklin clearing re-entry waivers and how much that might screw us over if he doesn't, we know we're boned.
Let's just list them out here for some sort of order:
-Home Ice Advantage
Well, how many more people can we lose? Remember that stint in '09 when we had fifteen-thousand injuries and our whole team was the Grand Rapids Griffins? Oh wait, that's right now.
But seriously, Lidstrom's out (more on that later), Howard's out (again), Helm's newly out for at least six weeks (I wouldn't hold my breath for the four they're estimating), Ericsson's out, Kindl's out, MacDonald's out, The Mule's out, and who knows when Eaves will return.
Our goalies right now are Jordan Pearce and Ty Conklin. My response to this is the picture up top. The injuries are concerning, and it used to be a lot more people on the sidelines, but thank goodness Bertuzzi and Datsyuk have cracked the lineup again. Even if they aren't back to playing 100%, Datsyuk's got those moves going and holy shit, if Nyquist can get some NHL games under his belt and look less like an AHLer, I cannot wait for him and Datsyuk to be on the same line. They had some flow going in the Caps game.
But that's only a glimmer of hope that's still far off. And now there's something even more concerning than the injuries...
The people sitting behind me at the Red Wings/Capitals game on Monday night - aside from being ridiculously obnoxious and annoying as hell - loudly voiced their concern about the possibility of missing the playoffs. And how we are absolutely going to miss them.
Hold the phone, idiots. One thing you need to remember is that despite the way the team has played in the last ten games, this is a team that will legitimately murder other teams if they don't make the playoffs. It's been twenty years since that last happened. I doubt they're going to just give up and roll over now.
But you would think that the possibility of missing the playoffs would ignite something in them. You would think the veterans on this team that have won Stanley Cups, or have gotten damn close, or have put up with San Jose in the second round of the playoffs the past two years would want to be playing their hearts out to get a shot at that Cup again. And that's not what we're seeing.
And then there's that magic, non-existent switch that somehow the Red Wings have found in the past. You know, where they play really crappy up until playoffs and then all of a sudden, they're an unstoppable machine. Will they activate it in these last handful of games to make everyone else shake in their boots or will they come in as the "underdog?" Will they flip on that switch to keep home-ice advantage for the playoffs?
Home Ice Advantage
Ahh, yes. The one thing we haven't had the past few postseasons and something we should desperately want with our stellar home record this season. That right there should be incentive enough to play better. Twenty-three straight home wins.
Which kind of leads me into the next topic...
Specifically assistant coaches, since we can assume Mike Babcock's job is relatively safe since he's proved himself in the past.
The idiots behind me at the game brought up a point I've seen on Twitter from a few people: Are these assistant coaches working?
This is a point that I both do and do not understand (mostly do not). I can see it because, naturally, there's that worry that the coaches aren't reaching the players, especially in a struggling stretch like this.
But what about the first sixty games about the season? What about the record-breaking twenty-three straight wins at home? What about what they were doing during that stretch? How much really has changed behind the scenes? I don't think coaching is the problem, but then again your guess is as good as mine.
This is a topic I really hate even thinking about. Like I've seen on Twitter, this losing stretch with Nicklas Lidstrom being out...it makes it seem as though Lidstrom is our whole team.
And it's terrifying to think that this could be what our team looks like whenever he retires.
How bad is his injury? Reports are saying it's nothing more than a bad bone bruise, which at Lidstrom's nearly forty two years of age is a little more serious than if he was in his early thirties. When will he return? When can we see that Lidstrom magnetism at the point on power plays? Because our power play is terribly nonexistent with him out.
We need Lidstrom back. Not just for this season and the playoffs, but for next season, too. If it can be managed. But that's another post entirely.
If we don't show up in tonight's game against the New York Rangers, I really don't know. But I think playing against a team we could potentially come across in the Stanley Cup Finals, we'll want to show them what we're capable of.
I'm not sure if this post is to get us all down or to give us a little glimmer of hope. I suppose that's for you to take out of it, because even I don't know how to feel right now. Excited for playoffs? Concerned? Panic-attack-ridden?
I will say this: We're not dead and done quite yet. Don't underestimate the Red Wings, because they usually end up surprising everyone.