The Red Wings got a good, old-fashioned facewash Tuesday night in Buffalo. A regular butt kicking. The Sabres booted the Red Wings halfway back to Detroit, using a second period, four-goal barrage to beat them, 6-2.
It was utter, total annihilation, dropping the team to 2-3 on the season.
And that’s a good thing.
Don’t look at me that way. Send back the men in the white jackets. Put the thermometer away. I’m fine, I swear.
When a team has had as much success as the Red Wings have had since, oh, 1991, it’s not a bad thing to get your nose rubbed into the ice surface on occasion—to remind you that laurels are great for reminiscing about but not something on which you rest.
The Red Wings are going to have to earn it this season. For real this time.
This is still a 100+ point hockey team, and is still a Stanley Cup contender. Legitimately, as they say. Any unit that can trot out the forwards the Red Wings can, not to mention the top four defensemen that they have, is a threat to hoist the chalice in June. Period, no matter what the haters out there might have you believe.
They lost a lot of players to free agency and injury, but the Red Wings also happened to have been the deepest team in the league, so now it’s time to prove it. And they will.
But that imaginary gap, the one that has long separated the Red Wings from the rest of the league, is shrinking, and fast. Again, not a bad thing.
The Sabres dominated the Red Wings in just about every area, even faceoffs, and you wonder which is the stronger emotion for the Wings today—anger or surprise.
If it’s a mixture of both, then the Sabres’ win might just be what the Red Wings needed.
The season opened with a couple of unseemly losses overseas, in Sweden. Then some home cooking corrected things for two games. Now, in the first “real” road game of the season, the Red Wings got spanked.
Hard work is going to have to trump talent this season. A champion’s will to show everyone that it’s far too early to declare them also-rans is going to have to bob to the surface.
And yes, some anger is fine. Hurt pride can be a springboard to righting the ship.
The Red Wings got waylaid in Buffalo, and they’re smart enough to know that it will happen more and more, if they don;t correct their play.
“They were better than us,” coach Mike Babcock said of the Sabres. “In all areas. They were just better.”
But the Red Wings are still better than the Sabres, and are better than just about all the teams in the league, on most nights.
They’re just going to have to work harder to prove it, is all.
And that’s not a bad thing.