If You Can’t Win Beat Them

The Detroit Red Wings are struggling to score goals and get points, but they are having no trouble accumulating penalty minutes.

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The Streaks

It’s only Mid November but it has not been a good season for the Detroit Red Wings.  They lost their first two games, but they surprised everyone with a six game streak before falling right back into the older patterns. Fans are disappointed to continue to see the Wings using the dump and chase method, which is not working, the line juggling in the middle of the game, which hardly ever works, and the fact that most of the time at least half the team skates like they don’t want to be there, which is just confusing.

The Red Wings are currently in seventh place in their division. If they continue playing this way they are not going to make the playoffs. Fans seem torn at the prospect of ending the 25 year playoff streak.  Some seem to think that it’s the kind of thing the team needs to shake them up and realize they need to change things, but others really do not want the streak to end, especially during the farewell season at the Joe Louis Arena. Detroit’s season is looking pretty bleak, but there is one thing that most fans seem to agree on. Detroit has been a much more physical team and ad that is a good thing.

The Fights

The Red Wings are twentieth in the league for games won. They have scored 44 goals, and allowed 51 goals against over 19 games. They have been shut out three times. Things are not looking good for the Detroit Red Wings. The players who should be the top scorers are having a hard time finding the back of the net and it almost looks like their confidence has been shaken and they aren’t really shooting as often as people would like. Things are looking messy for the Red Wings in the scoring department and many are saying that if it wasn’t for Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek than the season would be looking even darker for the Red Wings.

There is one thing that the Red Wings are near the top of their division is and that’s penalties.  As a team they average 10:43. They have sixty-nine minors and nine majors. Jonathan Ericsson is currently fourth in the league in penalty minutes. Even players who normally do not get mixed up in fights have been mixing it up. Dylan Larkin got into his first fight with Nashville’s Yannick Weber and even Larkin did not seem to happy about his first fight but the fans and his team mates enjoyed it.

Penalties are not generally a good thing. However, during the post game interviews when you hear the players all repeat the same thing. They want to stand up for each other. They want  other teams to know that if you go after a Wing than you will be paid back. Steve Ott especially seems to think it’s his job to protect the younger players.

Coming in like a wrecking ball

But lately it seems like the Red Wings might be taking it too far. During their November 15th game, Steven Stamkos twisted his knee while he was playing during a power play. The Wings may have not had anything to do with that but it started a trend that carried on into the next game.

During the November 18th game the Washington Capitals lost three of their forwards to the Red Wings’s aggressive playing. During the first period T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky all received upper body injuries and left the Capitals’ bench and didn’t come back for the rest of the game.  It left the Capitals with three lines. In theory that should have made it a lot easier for the Red Wings to outskate them, but sadly that wasn’t the case and they lost 1-0.

Goon Concern

One thing that is a concern is becoming a goon team. No one likes the team or the players that go seem to go out of their way to hurt players. Fighting has its place in games. What never has a place is dirty hits that could hurt players.

Steve Ott was the first of the Red Wings’s players that raised concern. During a game against the Bruins he speared the Boston Captain Zdeno Chara. The refs didn’t see it the but the Department of Player’s Safety did and Ott was fined $2222.22, which is the maximum fineable amount.

Danny Dekeyser received a five minute boarding penalty early in the first period. He pushed Tom Wilson from behind into that boards and Wilson left the ice but returned. There is no word yet if the Department of Player’s Safety is going to take any more actions against Dekeyser.

Red Wings fans like seeing their team get physical, but not when it’s unnecessary and not when it could hurt someone.

Final Thoughts

Detroit needs to get some things in order. It’s great that they are willing to stand up for each other. It’s good to know that if other teams get a dirty hit on our younger players the older ones will step up. The 2016-2017 Red Wings are a much more physical team.

Being a physical team is a nice change but it doesn’t win games. If the Wings don’t want to become the Dead Wings they need to start putting pucks in nets. Starting brawls is kind of fun to watch but it doesn’t get teams into the playoffs or stop them from getting kicked out in the first round.

The enforcers, goalies and penalty killers are doing their job, now it’s time for the scorers to start during theirs.

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