Posts tagged “Islanders”

Wings 1, Islanders 5

I don’t have much to say about this one.

The Wings fell to 11-13-0 on the road with yet another uninspired performance. Their road troubles compounded by their comical inability to beat a perpetual bottom feeder in their Islanders made for a rough night for fan viewing.

Ty Conklin started out somewhat shaky in what the Wings were no doubt hoping would be a confidence building night. And after those shaky first few saves, it seemed like their hopes were paying off. Ty visibly grew more confident and assured as the first period went on and he was forced to make save after save. The Islanders outshot the Wings 17-8 in the period and Conklin managed to stop 16. A positive spin on the period could have been that Conklin had held the Wings in it and that if they could get their legs under them in the second, they could pull off a road win despite their slow start.

Well, realism punched optimism in the face. The Wings did pick it up a bit in the second, outshooting the Islanders 10-4, but ran into Evgeni Nabokov making big saves and didn’t do a lot to follow up the chances they generated. The Islanders, on the other hand, took advantage of sloppy Red Wings defense and poor line changes to make it 4-0.

The Wings raised fan hopes a tad early in the third with Justin Abdelkader’s redirected goal, but they lacked a sense of urgency following that and time slowly ran out. The Islanders made it 5-1 with just over 6:00 left and that was it.

Conklin will no doubt face some heat in the message boards and comment threads, etc. for giving up five, and while that is a point against him, this was once again a total team failure. The Wings have been just good enough this season to hover close to the front of the Central pack, but every time they have a chance to pull ahead, they shoot themselves in the foot. Most often, that shooting comes on the road.

And it’s all mental. Case in point was Zetterberg’s awful decision to bail on the play and go to the bench for a change while the puck was about 10 feet away from him at the Islander blue line. The Islanders took it the other way and scored to make it 4-0 late in the second. That’s the kind of crap going on at every level of the team in these nights. It’s unacceptable from anyone in the lineup, but from “leadership” like Z, it’s especially galling.

My concern is that they won’t see any real urgent need to change anything because they are still in the hunt. This is where the Wings’ swagger runs the real risk of becoming flat arrogance.

Mike Babcock was livid that the Islanders called a timeout on an icing with 22 seconds left in a 5-1 game. Yeah, that was bush league. But I wonder how mad he was with his team for their play in yet another road loss. Where are Peters and Blashill, those guys who were supposed to bring a new perspective and shake things up? Here we are at just past the midway point of the season and I’m still less than impressed. These kinds of nights can happen here and there, but they’ve been too common this season and that’s not just on the players. Coaching needs to step it up, too.

It’s very frustrating. Not least because these kinds of after-loss get old.

Conks Again

It’s either, as @wingingitmotown suggested, growing confidence in Ty after his performance Sunday night, or the more pessimistic view: that Jimmy needs the time for at least a breather, if not to rest a minor injury.

That it’s the Islanders lends credence to the former view, obviously.

Wings 0, Islanders 6

Travel: I was initially going to rip the Wings a new one today. Then I remembered the whole coast-to-coast thing, so I was going to back down a bit. Then a True Grammatical Genius pointed out an interesting thing:

Hey Matt, Isles travelled from the west, as well. What was there problem?

Good point, derek. Phoenix to New York is a similar trip. Granted, the Islanders were playing a home game, but that doesn’t account for the different in play level between the two teams. If the Islanders, coming from just one time zone east of the Wings in their trip, can show up to play, so should Detroit.

So, yeah. The anger required for ripping new ones is gone after my initial softening, but I’m not offering any outs to this team. There is no excuse for that crapfest they put on last night.

Yanking: St. Howard got hung out to dry completely last night. Here’s hoping he’s matured the way he seemed to show with his Anaheim follow-up LA game because if not, his teammates may have ruined a good thing: a confident young goalie. Howard critic though I may be, I do not want to see that.

He’s evidently starting tomorrow, so here’s hoping Babcock saved enough of his confidence and dignity with the third-goal pull that he can come back with another strong night (just be less floppy, eh, James, right?).

As for Osgood: On one hand: “Way to come in and underwhelm, Oz.” On the other, “Yeah, what could you have done? The game was doomed from the start.” It would have been something for a feel good movie had Osgood come in and been lights out, but life isn’t Hollywood.

Anyone who expected him to do much better than that was expecting too much of a guy. There was simply  no way he was going to come riding in off the bench on some white horse, sword figuratively swinging and lopping off Islander heads. It was an ugly situation and the fact that Osgood was unable to make a single step toward getting back in the flow is one for which we can thank his teammates.

Stuart: Welcome back. We missed your gaffe-prone self. Just kidding. Bring Competent Defenseman Stuart back, please.

Datsyuk: I’m sick of watching him do nothing. He hit Okposo and took a penalty for it. Big deal. Has there been a more underwhelming season from a normally reliable guy in this team’s history? Osgood last year, maybe, but I’d argue Pavel’s struggles have been the single biggest disappointment of the season.

Se7en: No, not the ridiculously dark Morgan Freeman/Brad Pitt cardinal sin tour (how does “Se7en” even make sense, honestly?), but even more disturbing: that’s the number of times the Wings have been shut out this year.

It took them three seasons prior to this one to amass seven shutouts (three for past two, one for ’06-’07). Injuries have played a large part in this, for sure, but they now have Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary back. Franzen would be nice. Williams isn’t that large a factor. Kronwall helps, but even he isn’t critical to the offense.

There’s simply no excuse to be shut out, especially (yes, really, NYI fans) to the Islanders, who are on the playoff cusp, but still a weak team. I’m starting to feel like a pretentious prick calling other teams weak at this point. Before, I could do it with authority. Now? How do you deal with this?

Forget? Last night on Twitter, I said

I really don’t want to have to write another “Trash game, blown opportunity, etc. etc.” post tomorrow. Need a fricking form post by now.

These are the kinds of games we’re told to forget, the kinds of games media types like to say the team will just put behind them after throwing out the tape. What’s the tally on these forgotten games now? 15? Higher? Not every loss, just the really crappy ones.

I don’t know about you, but I’m about out of space to put games to forget about. And I certainly hope the Wings aren’t forgetting these, though it sure seems like they are with all the repetition. Somebody needs to remember and take action based on them. Obviously, fans can’t do anything on the ice, so it’s up to the team to say, “I’m sick of this and I’m going to do something about it.”

Still waiting. Until then, I may start drafting that form post.

Wings 0, Islanders 2

I’m just going to come out and say that I don’t think this is a game to freak out about. This was not a loss like the 8-0, 8-2, or 6-5 SO losses we’ve seen the last few weeks. This was a typical end-of-season loss to a team that has transitioned to “trip ‘em up mode” because that’s the only way they can keep from giving up entirely.

If you’re an experienced sports fan, you know that things don’t always work out in reality like they should according to the standings or relative ability. That’s why I’m less worried about this loss than I am about the losses to Nashville, Columbus and Calgary, all teams I’d consider less than the Wings, but all teams that could be direct competitors when it matters. A loss to the Islanders is a throwaway game. A loss to those teams will mean a history should they meet in the playoffs.

I think that the Wings have done a fair job of correcting the issues that led to the bad losses to the Predators, Jackets, and Flames. This one was a different type of game and falls under a different category of loss.

Are the Islanders an awful team? Their record indicates it. But they’re still a collection of NHL players who retain the pride and drive that got them to the League. While they don’t have a playoff spot to play for, they have the ability to trip up playoff-bound teams and cast doubts among the fans. So, they brought their best last night and came out on top of a team that brought maybe its B+ game.

I honestly didn’t think the Wings played that badly. They didn’t take the Islanders as seriously as they should have and once New York showed that they wouldn’t just roll over, they didn’t up the intensity all that much. That’s worrisome, but it shouldn’t induce panic. This game, to me any way, falls under the category of “typical late season loss to an opponent with more motivation” rather than “ugly loss to possible playoff opponent who should have faced ‘A-game’ Wings.”

Let’s not forget Joey MacDonald, who has proven to be every bit as good in his position as Kyle Quincey has shown to be in his. MacDonald played a heck of a game. The 5-7 posts look bad on one hand, but can also indicate that he only left the shooter that much. The Wings ran into a hot goalie and, as is usual with them, had trouble beating him. That’s a problem that goes back years, so let’s not connect it to their issues this season.

At the other end of the ice, Chris Osgood played well enough for the Wings to win. He got screwed by Mikael Samuelsson on the first one, and, while he looked foolish on the second, was the victim of poor defensive coverage on that one as well. I would have loved to have seen him be as strong as MacDonald last night, but Osgood has only rarely been the goalie who steals games outright. His thing is to give his team an easy way to win, and that’s what he’s been bad about this year with his penchnt for giving up 3+ goals. Last night was not one of those bad nights, however.

I’ve gotten comments in this thread about firing Babcock. Can we stop with that right now?  That has to be the most idiotic Wings-related thing I have ever read. Babcock has brought success to this team that in some ways beats what Bowman accomplished. He is not Scotty Bowman, but he is one of the best coaches in the League today. I’m sorry but any talk of firing a coach after four consecutive 50-win seasons (yes, they’ll do it) is ludicrous and speaks to a culture in the NHL that has developed around looking for easy answers to tough questions.

What’s wrong with this team? It’s a simple matter of having been there and having done that. They have played so many meaningful games over the years that Game #75 of the regular season offers little motivation in light of what’s coming (the playoffs). This effect has to be heightened by the fact that they won the Cup last year. I’m definitely worried about their ability to turn “it” on in the first round, but I’m starting to get tired of holding it against them when they don’t perform up to my exacting standards in games that mean next to nothing.

It sucks that the Wings blew a chance to pull ahead of the Sharks, but they’ll have another opportunity and probably one after that.