Fatigue: It looked like the story of the game in the first, when the Blues took it to a Wings team that looked exhausted. Turns out the exhaustion may have just been a game-opening funk, as the Wings either tapped some energy reserve later in the game or snapped out of that funk. As often as we’ve seen the Wings do that this season, I’m going with the funk angle.
After a hard-fought game against the Canucks, the Wings certainly had reason to be tired last night. But their late push, especially in the second half of the third, was too energetic for their earlier problems handling St. Louis to be marked down to fatigue.
Osgood: Another try at 400, another failure. This time, I thought he could have played better. He made a couple big saves, but he probably could have had the second pair of Blues goals.
Kronwall: Another of his off nights. Not sure what’s going on with him this season.
Rafalski: Fox Sports highlighted how hot he’s been in terms of production, but it rang hollow in my ears as all I see is a defenseman that’s underwhelming in, you know, the actual defending portion of his job. Rafalski is one of the most naturally talented athletes on the team, but he’s been pretty bad lately. It’s frustrating, because when a guy who gets so much ice time is bad, it hurts the team a lot more than if some scrub is bad.
Hudler: Again had one of those nights where I was convinced he might actually get something going. He was involved in the big push in the second half of the game and made some great plays at points. He had some good chances himself, and set guys up for chances of their own. But nothing went his way. And my guess is he’ll be back to his shell Sunday, as has been the pattern. He has his solid games that make him look to be on the cusp, then he fails to cross the cusp, and retreats back into the “ugh, I’ll never break free of this” mindset.
I don’t know what the solution is. I’ve never seen a player this snakebitten. On the plus side, this is an opportunity to come up with a new phrase to describe an all-pervasive, perpetual slump, eh?
Bertuzzi: I thought he had a really strong game offensively. The Fil, Franzen and Bert line was second only to Zetterberg’s line in the big push and much of that was due to Bertuzzi.
Franzen: It certainly wasn’t because of Franzen. He had a goal, which was great, and would normally mean he’d be untouchable for a bit, but aside from his reaction to a D’Agostoni run attempt, I have little else positive to say about Mule. The guy’s been MIA in the effort department lately and in my opinion is in danger of becoming that player in the Wings’ lineup that only shows up when he feels like it.
Remember how much people hated that in Fedorov? Well, Franzen’s slowly starting to feel like that. And he doesn’t have the sheer ability to coast like Fedorov did and still be marginally effective. A Franzen that’s not working is a Franzen that’s all but useless. The Wings need Franzen to make good on his words in a Hudler article earlier this week (can’t find it, though…) where he said he just tries to work hard when the offensive side of things isn’t working out for him.
Datsyuk: I wonder if this stretch of games without him is going to further confirm a suspicion that’s been growing in my mind this season: that he’s the real heart of this team. He’s certainly taken a lead this season and even as early as last night, his absence was majorly noticeable from a fire and leadership standpoint. It has me wondering if Pavel shouldn’t be destined for the C rather than Zetterberg.
The thing, though, is Zetterberg plays the game so differently (his blue-collar style of defense is in stark contrast with Pavel’s way of making it look so easy) that maybe it’s easier to stamp Pavel with #1 leader for what he does in a more standout way than Hank does in a quieter way. I dunno. What do you think? Has this season of Pavel’s cracked the foundation of Z’s future captaincy for you or am I crazy?
The Big Comeback Effort: It started out exactly like it needed to: the Wings were handed a 5-on-3 on a platter, and the Wings promptly pulled within two. They didn’t score on the 5-on-4, but it didn’t take long to get within a goal, on Eaves’ 8th. The third was then spent in frantic flurries, which was fun, but had me, and probably the rest of you, wondering where that effort was earlier in the game. It was the same old problem for this team this season, a slow start followed later by the results of the realization that they’re down and should probably get around to scoring and pulling the win out of the fire.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. A game against a team with a goalie like Halak and the defensive ability to bend but not break is probably going to be a night where it doesn’t. The Wings just can’t spot a team like St. Louis three goals and expect to be okay. Though I will say that if there had been five more minutes to that game, they probably would have tied it up. But that’s another reason why late pushes can’t be the strategy, because of that whole clock thing.
Next: Fittingly a game after Christmas against the red-and-green Wild. Hope the team has a good couple days recharging and preparing for the post-12/25 season. They need to be better.