RECORDS: Wings 17-18-7 HAWKS 22-16-6
PUCK DROP: 11:30 in the damn morning
PIZZA! PIZZA!: Winging It In Motown
Oh haven’t you missed these? NBC, clearly not paying attention to standings, feelings, or current trends, has scheduled what used to be one of the league’s leading rivalries for its Game Of The Week slot. Sadly, it’s not two teams who don’t play in the same conference, one of which is in a full rebuild (or should be) and the other is fighting just for a playoff spot. These days these games between the Hawks and Wings feel more like a family reunion between members that used to be in a real dispute but have gotten too old or too tired to care anymore. But the nation is getting it, and you’re getting morning hockey.
As you probably know by now, the Wings stink. Perhaps intentionally, or perhaps this is the best team Ken Holland can build. If they were in a full rebuild you’d wonder why Frans Nielsen and Trevor Daley are here, along with a few others. And Holland still has a chance to fix that by the deadline if he can.
In a sort of Red Wings way, this team isn’t even bad in an interesting way, depriving us of a good chuckle. Make no mistake, they’re not good. But they’re not really bottom-dwelling in anything, they’re just not good at anything. They get passable goaltending when Howard is in there and healthy, but Petr Mrazek has been Three Mile Island in net for the whole season. It was that was last season too, which makes you wonder if Holland doesn’t regret trading him when he had value two years ago. Whoops.
As has been the case with the Wings since Lidstrom retired honestly, this blue line blows. It did get rid of Brendan Smith last year, which you would think would have to make it better. But it’s not. Niklas Kronwall can’t get there anymore. No one’s ever been able to explain what it is Jonathan Ericsson does other than “be tall.” They signed Trevor Daley and then discovered that when Crosby and Malkin aren’t making up for his drunken cowboy style he actually just sucks, as the Hawks discovered. Danny DeKeyser allows you to say his name like “MacGuyver” in the episode where Sideshow Bob tries to kill Selma. Mike Green has had an effective season and should be one of the main prizes at the deadline because right-handed d-men, especially ones that can get up and go, are gold in today’s NHL. That is if Ken Holland has figured out that the Wings overblown playoff streak is actually over and he doesn’t still have to chase it, which is up for debate. God knows the Wings could use some more young pieces in return.
Up front, the hope mainly surrounds Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin, though they might lose Athanasiou (I can’t wait another day…) this summer due to Holland’s mangling of the cap. Along with Anthony Mantha they’re about the only reason to watch the Wings these days. Henrik Zetterberg can still play in both ends but should be a #2 or #3 center at this point in his career and he’s still taking top line shifts for Detroit. Todd Bertuzzi’s kid is on his line because you may not have seen that part of the latest CBA is that the Wings have to have a Bertuzzi in the lineup at all times. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar are still here to score 30-45 goals no one gives a shit about per season, as they’ve done for a while now.
For the Hawks, the only change we should see is Anton Forsberg in for Glass Jeff. Maybe Kempny can slot in for Rutta or Seabrook, but with Rutta scoring the other night it’s unlikely. Basically, the Hawks have to keep the focus on the 60 here before decamping to whatever beach and casino they have planned for the bye week. This Wings team really should be brushed aside, but we’ve seen the Hawks spit it up against the Canucks and Avs in the past. There can be no such slips here, as the Wild won last night and the Hawks are once again on the outside looking in. They’re going to get passed in the next week obviously as they’ll be idle, so these two points are vital.
If you’re let off the gas Larkin can burn you, or Mantha on the power play down low, and Z is still capable of the odd moment of genius. So no bullshit here. Clean and efficient and then move on to a break that the Hawks will have to come out of firing.
Game #45 Preview