Wings Regular Season Wrap Up and Play-off Preview.
Yet again I find myself surprised to be in the play-offs at all. While not having completely given up hope I had resigned myself to the fact the Wings would likely miss some time ago. All games from here out are just fun time.
The Wings were a Jeckel and Hyde team this year. The Wings had the benefit of a relatively easy schedule to start the year and took advantage of it even briefly appearing at the top of the Central Division a couple of times. Even then though there were a number of concerns b/c, while winning, they were doing it purely on the strength of special teams. 5-on-5 performances were actually quite concerning as, despite a few lineup tweaks, the only forward pair the was clicking regularly was Eberle and Boyes and support from the back end was essentially non-existent. This is where near fatal mistake number one occurred as I, despite knowing what I needed to trade for, was reluctant to undermine the last two years of retooling by trading any significant assets so no trades occurred to remedy the issues.
About a third of the way into the schedule the team went into a tail spin as the schedule became tougher and a few injuries to the already thin defense corps took their toll. During the time the issues were compounded by myself being distracted by other life factors and so the team found itself on auto lines a few times (near fatal mistake number two). On this front I’ll likely be looking to add an AGM this offseason.
As the trade deadline was approaching the team had fallen so far I had to change course and had just started serious trade discussions when the team took another serious blow – a season ending injury to leading scorer Brad Boyes. Despite warnings from some fellow GM’s about the perils of taking on players with low morale the Wings made 3 moves at the deadline bringing in pending UFA’s Pavel Kubina and Scottie Upshall as well as the up and coming Derek Stepan.
Initially the trades had little impact and the team fell as far as 11th in the standings with the toughest part of the schedule remaining. It was at this point I has resigned myself to the likely hood of missing the play-offs as it was going to require winning nearly two thirds of the remaining games against better performing teams (only 4 games against non-play-off teams). To add insult I had traded away my first rounder. One final lineup tweak was made and low and behold the Wings started to win a few but even then the outcome was in question as teams the Wings were chasing also started to get hot like the Blues. It took all 82 games, including Lundqvist posting shutouts in 3 of the final 6 games, for the Wings to barely creep back into a play-off spot.
Part of the battle all year of course was playing so many games against division rivals. The Wings were only slightly better than .500 against their Central Division foes which makes the fact all 5 central division teams made it in all the more remarkable.
While Matt G. will likely try to plead the ‘underdog’ role heading into the play-offs the Wings will have their work cut-out for them. Some may point to the President’s Trophy curse but that’s a mere distraction we let Nick use to console himself. it’s really the Joe Thornton curse so Matt you have no worries.
While I’d like to talk smack about Anaheim padding their points with weaker teams I can’t really make that claim. In the season series Detroit was a woeful 1-3 versus the Ducks with the only victory requiring OT. As far as match-ups go in goal we’ll call Rinne versus Lundqvist an even battle, at forward Detroit looks to match-up decently on paper but the Ducks forwards have had much more chemistry. It’s on the blueline where the biggest advantage exists for the Ducks.
In terms of style of play the Ducks embraced specialization this year and employ similar line strategies as the Wings. It goes without saying the Ducks have been more successful using it than the Wings so staying with the same approach is likely suicide. I’ll have to review “game tapes” to see where we lost the games to the Ducks and see if we can adjust accordingly.
Hopefully, after having to play desperation hockey for so long to make the play-offs, the team still has some gas (and luck) left to battle the Ducks.
Either way it’s all for fun now, if we lose …. well 8th seed teams are supposed to lose … and if we win it will be used as proof of the President Trophy curse. The only other GM possibly cheering for Detroit will be Rich as he hopes to improve his draft picks by upgrading the DET 3rd to a 2nd if the Wings make it to the second round.
Let the games begin.
Last edited by HFNHL Red Wings GM: 04-09-2012 at 11:30 AM.