So what will the Red Wings’ winning percentage be once they get around to playing some defense?
Scoring is up around the NHL, and nowhere is that more true than in Detroit, aka Hockeytown (if you believe the hype).
We’re used to seeing GAAs just barely peeking above 2.00 around these parts. After last night’s unseemly 7-6 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Red Wings have now given up 47 goals in just 14 games — a GAA of 3.36. If Scotty Bowman was behind the bench of a team with such numbers, Hockeytown would need, in the words of Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman, “an enema.”
But this is the NHL, where November is part of that great, big black hole called the regular season. What’s more, it’s still the early throes of that big black hole. Translated: don’t worry, be happy.
After all, the Red Wings ARE 9-2-3, and that’s very Red Wings-like, indeed. They’re just going about it in a different way now: running-and-gunning, their aim now to simply outscore their opponents. Lord knows they’re not getting much help from the blue line corps, nor the goaltenders all that much.
The good news is that if you’re going to be sieve-like defensively, you may as well possess one of the best offenses in the world. Which the Red Wings do. Last night’s game could just have easily ended in a Detroit 7-6 win instead. The Red Wings should never be afraid of having to score, of having to lean on their firepower while they clean up their mess on the back end. Because as bad as they’ve been defensively, the fact of the matter is that the odds of the Red Wings scoring six goals on any given night is still much better than them giving up seven. But they shouldn’t have to do that — at least not long-term.
Already, stalwarts such as Niklas Kronwall and Brett Lebda have slumped and, in Lebda’s case, been scratched from the lineup. Goalies Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin have had their spectacular moments, but they’re not bailing their teammates out enough to keep that GAA down.
Last season, right around this time, I fussed about goalie Dominik Hasek. The 42-year-old was off to a slow start, and I went into Chicken Little Mode, suggesting that perhaps he was done as a quality netminder. It wasn’t the first time that I cried wolf. Hasek, of course, made me look silly — my keyboard hanging from the scoreboard, as Mickey Redmond would say — recovering in short order and turning in another remarkable season. Then, Hasek fooled me again. As the playoffs neared, I wrote that he was just the man to lead the Wings to the Stanley Cup. I was half-right; the Wings took the Cup, but not before Hasek hiccuped again, and Osgood took his place. Dom always was a tough guy to figure out.
So here I go again, restless in November about goals against. Frowning even though the Red Wings gather points at a .750 clip.
But it’s also the nature of covering and following the Red Wings beast to crab about the regular season in November because there’s precious little else to discuss until April. Because you know the Red Wings will somehow end up with 50+ wins, 110+ points and will be serious Cup contenders come spring. That’s a given. You gotta have SOMETHING to complain about!
Besides, there are no 7-6 games allowed in the playoffs. It’s a league rule, I think.