Like it or not, Detroit fans, but the Detroit Red Wings are stuck in what can be called sports purgatory. The Red Wings have been just barely good enough to reach the playoffs, but they also haven’t been good enough to do anything in the postseason. That is why this offseason, unlike past years, the Red Wings need to start anew and seriously rebuild.
The Red Wings have not made it to at least the Western Conference Finals in each of the past five seasons, and most of that can be attributed to coach Mike Babcock and goaltender Jimmy Howard. Personally, I have never been a big fan of Babcock and believe that most of his accolades come as a result of having Nicklas Lidstrom on the roster rather than him being a good head coach.
In the net, I have never been sold on Howard as a franchise goaltender either. Not only does Howard give up the simplest of goals at the most inopportune times, but backups Jonas Gustavsson and Peter Mrazek, I feel, give the Red Wings a better opportunity to win rather than the overpaid Howard.
On offense, the Red Wings were at most times inept, especially in the postseason. In five games against the Boston Bruins, the Red Wings only scored more than one goal in a game twice and looked completely outmatched against Boston’s defense. Players like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson all showed their age last year as injuries plagued all three for some if not most of the regular season.
Defensively is where the Red Wings continued to struggle, especially since the retirement of Lidstrom. Defenders like Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson have been poor imitations of their predecessor and likewise manage to make too many silly mistakes at the most inopportune times.
The most troubling part of the Red Wings’ current slide has been their questionable personnel moves, especially this last year. Alfredsson has played well past his time, and arrivals like Stephen Weiss and David Legwand proved to be major flops last year.
If the Red Wings expect to get back into the discussion of NHL dominance, serious talk have to be held about the direction of the team. Yet another one or two and done postseason run will not cut it, especially for a town that prides itself on being “Hockeytown USA”.