FGD: The Red Wings are Coming!

Kent Wilson
November 01 2013 09:49AM

 

 

The former juggernaut Detroit Red Wings aren't quite as run down as their unfortunate home town, but cracks are finally starting to show in the armor. Right now, Detroit is 14th in the league in terms of score-close possession, a metric they routinely dominated for years. Datysuk and Zetterberg are growing long in the tooth, but for now remain top drawer two-way players. 

The divide between them and the rest of the club continues to grow, however. Absent Lidstrom, the team doesn't have a third elite leg to support the rest of the average stool (yeesh...talk about your clumsy metaphors). Only three other forwards are in the black in terms of possession so far - Bertuzzi, Alfredsson and Abdlekader. And Bertuzzi mostly plays with Datsyuk and Zetterberg (meaning he's not driving that number). Alfredsson is 40-years old and Abdelkader hangs out at the end of the rotation. Johan Franzen is close (49%), but there's a big drop off after him.

The biggest disappointment for the Wings must be Stephen Weiss. He has the worst possession rate on the team (43%) even with a sky-high zone start ratio (57%). Weiss was a pretty good player in Florida for a long time, but his numbers started slipping over the his two seasons as a Panther. He was supposed to anchor the Wings second scoring line, but he's sinking the boat instead.

All of which is an overly long way to say - the Red Wings are still good, but they don't appear to be ridiculously good anymore. They have two elite forwards, some decent support pieces and a whole bunch of meh. If the Flames can cage Datsyuk and Zetterberg (easier said than done, I know), then they have chance to outplay the Wings so-so depth.

The Lineup

Hartley announced yesterday Backlund would slide back into the line-up and Joey MacDondald would get a turn after Ramo's *ahem* "performance" against the Leafs. Her's how things will probably shape up:

  • Glencross - Stajan - Jones
  • Galiardi - Colborne - Cammalleri
  • Baertschi - Monahan - Hudler
  • Bouma - Backlund - McGrattan

  • Russell - Wideman
  • Brodie - Butler
  • O'Brien - Smith

  • MacDonald

A lot of plaudits have been handed to Joe Colborne over his recent play and particularly his 23 minute game vs Toronto the other night, but I still find the decision making governing his usage rather bizarre - at least relative to other players on the club. Colborne has certainly looked better over the last few games compared to his first few (where he was completely lost) and in general I am not opposed to coach playing the heck out of a few young guys this year for informational and developmental purposes.

Here's the thing - Colborne hasn't been that good so far. Certainly not "usurp Backlund" good. The former Leaf has been fed some of the softest minutes of any forward on the team (65.5% zone start) and yet on Wednesday night he boasted the worst even strength scoring chance ratio on the Flames (3 for, 9 against). He's nowhere near a 20 minute per night center yet and I don't see what he's done to privilege him above players like Backlund or Baertschi (who have seen their minutes limited or slashed at both ES and on the PP).

Maybe it's a motivational thing. Maybe Hartley is using different reinforcement techniques with different players. But on the face of it, the disparate treatment of certain guys on the team seems...incongruous.

The Opposition

It's the Datsyuk line and then everyone else. Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Bertuzzi
  • Cleary - Franzen - Alfredsson
  • Tatar - Weiss - Abdelkader
  • Miller - Andersson - Eaves

  • Kronwall - DeKeyser
  • Quincey - Smith
  • Kindl - Lashoff

  • Howard

Detroit's blueline is somewhat underwhelming as well. Kronwall is a legitimate top pairing guy at this point and most teams could probably get away with Smith and Ericsson (currently injured) in their top-4, but the rest of the defense brigade is trouble.

DeKeyser was a highly sought after College free agent, but he's only 24 games into his NHL career. Quincey is kind of the Wing's version of Chris Butler - he has some tools, but always seems to end up a scapegoat at the end of too many games. Kindl is still trying to find his way at the NHL level and Lashoff (Brian, not Matt) is a 23 year old rookie and former free agent signing who has been plying his trade in Grand Rapids for the last few years. HIs resume reminds of Adam Pardy's when he made the Flames a few years ago. 

We've discussed the forward unit, though I'd like to add I continually wonder what power Todd Bertuzzi holds over the Detroit Red Wing organization - he's 38 year old, he was a suspect two-way player even as a Flame back in 2008-09, he hasn't scored more than 45 points in six seasons and he only has four points 12 games this year...and yet he's skating with Dats and Zetterberg at ES. I don't get it.

Sum it Up

Detroit's first line is a powerhouse and can take a game over all by themselves. Calgary has no true power on power option that can be reasonably expected to take them on, but some nights you have hold the big guns in check via luck or hard work (or both). The key to the game will be to minimizing the damage from those guys and then outplaying the Wing's much softer underbelly.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#52 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 09:06PM
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was macdonald literally asleep on that shot?

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#53 funkyjaman
November 01 2013, 09:07PM
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I feel bad for the young guys on this team. It must be frustrating to put forward good efforts each night only to be let down by below NHL level goaltending and poor motivation levels by the (most) vets on this team. Its going to be the un-doing of this rebuilding team this season.

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#54 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:11PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Well then, it's back to Calgary Puck for you.

On you bike, and on your way.

I guess you don't like alternative opinions

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#55 maimster
November 01 2013, 09:19PM
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Not watching the game, but I will say that I was really having fun watching this team when Stajan and Cammy weren't in the lineup, when they were playing Backlund a bunch and depending upon mostly young guys. Add in Ramo to that, and I'd be happy to watch the effort. I think they're less fun to watch with Backlund on fourth line and Glencross/Jones/Cammy playing so many damn minutes.

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#56 prendrefeu
November 01 2013, 09:28PM
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... and that's the night.

It's been real, McDonald, it's been real.

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#57 Brent G.
November 01 2013, 09:28PM
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Man this crazy is on a crazy down swing. I guess that beginning of the year play was more flash in the pan than pleasant surprise this year.

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#59 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 09:29PM
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Clyde wrote:

I guess you don't like alternative opinions

You are a troll. And I think you meant different opinions.

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#61 maimster
November 01 2013, 09:33PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Wins the thread.

Will second that sentiment.

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#62 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:55PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I actually expected that you would have embraced the title, since you get a lot of attension working it. You don't present any supporting arguments for you opinions. No clear reasoning, no new information, nothing new. By my observation, you simple mock anyone that utters anything that isn't generally acknowledged by mainstream media. So yeah, you are a troll. And, by the way no body cares that you are a hockey guy - whatever that means.

Hi , I guess by hockey guy , I have been around the game for over 40 years as a player, coach, athlete developer for about 40 years and a a Flames fan since Lanny came to town. Not trying to mock you and sorry if that is your perception.

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#63 seve927
November 01 2013, 09:56PM
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Clyde wrote:

No, I'm not a troll. I'm a hockey guy. Sorry I have caused such an intelligent person to resort to name calling. And, thank you for the correction. I am not a great writer

We're all hockey guys. That's why we read this site. That should be self-evident.

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#64 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 01 2013, 10:26PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Let's cut the name calling guys. Clyde likes his conventional hockey thoughts. That's fine.

thank you. It get's very uncomfortable.

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#65 Burnward
November 01 2013, 10:39PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Okay. So...

If you watched a car speed by you and thought "That guy's going really fast. Like, 100." And a cop beside you with a laser guided speed recorder leaned over and told you it was actually 65, would you discount his evidence?

Caahhhhhm ahhhhhnnnn Kent.

You know that's a silly argument to use here. Simply talking about breaking down a hockey game.

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#66 Clyde
November 01 2013, 10:45PM
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gussey wrote:

Not necessarily. But cops radars, like stats, are not always right. That's why there is court.

If your walking downtown and get approached by two shady crackheads.. Do feel safe because you were told crime in downtown has dropped by 38 percent this year? Or would you like to have a guy like mcgratten standing next to you?

Awesome!

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#67 coachedpotatoe
November 02 2013, 08:53AM
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gussey wrote:

Not necessarily. But cops radars, like stats, are not always right. That's why there is court.

If your walking downtown and get approached by two shady crackheads.. Do feel safe because you were told crime in downtown has dropped by 38 percent this year? Or would you like to have a guy like mcgratten standing next to you?

This is one horrible analogy to defend the role of a fighter. If we use this idea to defend you position then after McG's big win the alley should have been cleared, but McG had already gone home(stapled to bench and being paid to watch hockey) so more crack heads came out and you still got mugged. Someone else has said what you hope for is the police to be around that would be great if they always did their job. How many times has Shanny dropped the ball with player discipline and how consistent has he been?

If there were no crack heads on the street because the streets had been cleaned up, they were playing for the Allan cup rather than the NHL then you could go down the street. Which would you rather pay money to watch?

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#68 Kevin R
November 01 2013, 10:01AM
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Hope Backlund does draw back in tonight. He usually has his best games against Detroit & would love to see him have another one to get out of Hartley's doghouse. Flames play well against the Wings, should be a good game.

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#69 Colin.S
November 01 2013, 10:54AM
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The best part of Backlund sitting is they are expecting more offense from him, that's why he's sitting isn't he, they were saying they wanted more points from him? So when they activate where do they put him? Between Bouma and MacGratton, I'm sure he's gonna put up a ton of points from there.

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#70 Parallex
November 01 2013, 10:58AM
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After Baertschi got his 4th line game + benching he got to go right back alongside Monahan and Hudler... let's see what Hartley does with Backlund. If he's going to be fair about it he'll put Backs with Galiardi & Cammalleri but If he's not he'll stick him with the pluggers again.

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#72 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 12:52PM
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The only positive about that picture is that nothing's on fire. Or that might be a negative.

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#73 Dr. Philosophy
November 01 2013, 01:06PM
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Actually, I think having an average stool on two legs is both possible and a good thing.

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#74 TRAV
November 01 2013, 01:28PM
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I can understand playing your heavyweight when the other squad has big tough guys in their lineup. I prefer real hockey fights that result from on ice events but I have argued here in the past that I can support a McGratton in the proper situations. I DON'T think he should be in the lineup tonite. This would have been a perfect game to get one of the kids in from Abby. Detroit doesn't fight and won't be intimidated by McGratton. I would far rather see a Knight on the fourth line. You can't tell Backs to play better offensively and then plug him between Bouma and Grats for seven minutes. I think that maybe coach potato had suggested rolling four decent lines. To me this would be a great game to employ that strategy.

Finally are there any free agent Dmen that we could bring in and then swap at the deadline for a draft pick. It seems maybe we are thin down on the farm with injuries etc...

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#75 Parallex
November 01 2013, 01:31PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Backs on the 4th line again? I really don't get it. I, along with others here, am also starting to wonder if BB is influencing Colborne getting 2nd line minutes. What a waste of not only one of our best players, but our best young players.

Where is the MSM with the hard questions on this btw? Get some cameras and mikes in front of Harltey and make him explain himself.

Sure would be nice if someone in the media did something other then just seek out the traditional narratives.

Hey Kent... on that note do you guys have credentials?

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#76 mattyc
November 01 2013, 01:39PM
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@beloch

That didn't end so well last time... Backlund vs. Lovejoy

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#77 Bean-counting cowboy
November 01 2013, 01:43PM
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I'm a bit torn on the fighting in hockey debate. I certainly don't like the goonery and staged fights (go watch MMA if you're into that type of thing), however I do find myself getting amped up when there is a "natural fight".

One thing I wonder is if there would be more interest in playing the sport if fighting was removed. I know quite a number of parents who don't want their kids to play because of the fighting aspect. There was a news story I saw recently indicating that fewer Canadian families are having their kids play hockey. Beyond the financial and time burdens, I wonder how much of that relates to fighting?

I teach my young kids about how fighting is bad, and so on. Then I take them to a hockey game and wonder if I should cheer and yell as the fight is going on or keep quiet and explain why everyone else is screaming and yelling.

There are a lot of very physical sports that don't allow fighting, why should hockey be different? Anyone watch Auzzy rules Football? One of the best, physical sports to watch IMO. Rugby, Football, etc. Why is hockey the only major sport to allow fighting? I think the game could be played without it.

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#78 Dave
November 01 2013, 02:42PM
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@the forgotten man

Rebuilding does not mean tanking to get high draft picks. It means putting together a team that can win now and in the future. Building a team through the draft is just one strategy (I believe the best one) but how can you know if the rebuild is working or what changes need to happen if the players and coaching staff are purposefully losing?

I just get sick of hearing that the team needs to try and lose. I don't want to cheer for a team that has no will to win.

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#79 winelover
November 01 2013, 02:45PM
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Is is nice to see full year stats for Colborne's sheltered life but a more realistic stat would be to review the immediately prior games to the Toronto game. The 4 previous games. Sheltered? If Hartley had given Colborne 1/2 less offensive face off and 1/2 more defensive face off per game Colbornes offensive face offs and defensive faceoffs would be nearly identical. (actually he would have a greater percentage of defensive face offs). Why did he get more minutes against Toronto? During the 4 previous games he was +4 while Monahan was -2 and Backlund -1. In addition he had the same points as Monahan and one more than Backlund despite playing 23 minutes less than Monahan and 18 minutes less than Backlund. It is true that plus/minus stats and points depend heavily on who you play with and who you play against just as the "chance stats" quoted. Taken in isolation they are use less. If Backlund gets big minutes every game and Monahan gets big minutes every game and Stajan gets big minutes every game how the "H" are we to play and develop other centers whether they be Colborne or other players on the farm? Play them all; in all situations; and sit them all as well to give all a look. Moving forward we have to give ALL a shot and this is the year to it to determine who you want to keep moving forward.

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#80 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 03:12PM
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@winelover

Yeah I think Rhett brought up the fact that Backlund's play was slipping and that other players were playing better. I have noticed that other teams tend to be putting a lot of physical pressure on Backs now. Let's see if he can adapt.

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#81 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 03:18PM
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for me, the psychological calculus of a player before he cheap-shots someone is a red herring. for that player, it's not about whether or not he can get away with it without consequences, it's about habits. (and as a consequence, why should fighting be feared relative to the other potential dangers one faces in a hockey game at the nhl level? burke even hints at this when he notes that he feared crashing into the boards more than a fight).

cheap-shots are not a problem of rational choice decision making in the game; they are the outcomes of a general style of play, or a player's habitus. certain guys play on the edge because that's what they're there to do. to get rid of these plays you need to get rid of that style of player, or better put, that set of habits.

how did matt cooke change? he got to the point where he was threatened by his own organization with no longer being able to play (a real consequence upon which he had a significant amount of time to reflect). and this had nothing to do with the threat of a physical altercation. furthermore, at the moment of 'revelation'--his decision to clean up his game--he didn't immediately change. in fact, he had to work extensively with the pens' coaches in order to transform his habits.

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#82 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2013, 03:30PM
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@Baalzamon

Glad you enjoyed it. Another bonus is that people would stop complaining about his faceoff percentage. :D

That said, I like him as a centre as well. But if it came to him either losing a spot on the team/being traded or being tried at D, it would be interesting (possibly a spectacular failure, but who knows? He's a smart kid).

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#83 SoCalFlamesFan
November 01 2013, 04:01PM
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@jonahgo

"for me, the psychological calculus of a player before he cheap-shots someone is a red herring. for that player, it's not about whether or not he can get away with it without consequences, it's about habits."

True the effect can be exaggerated but every day I see drivers break heavily when they see a police car ... even when not speeding.

People are people.

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#84 Bean-counting cowboy
November 01 2013, 04:06PM
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clyde wrote:

I played in Europe when there was very little fighting. It was usually us Canadian guys going after a very dirty player. lol. The stickwork, spitting, cheap shots, kicking, etc were horrendous. The crowds were very passive as the game was very structured and featured a great deal of trapping and obstruction. They would get very excited when there was a bit of emotion through a hard hit, scrums and the odd tussle much more so than even a goal. I have noticed some leagues, especially the KHL have started employing tough guys and I'm sure it is in no small part in order to get the fans a little more excited. However, an interesting thing happened in Sweden a few years ago. They changed what they were doing by realizing they needed to develop players with a grittier playing style. Not necessarily fighters but guys who would go to the tough areas and compete much harder in the physical areas. The first generation of this type of player included guys like Kronwall, the Sedins and Douglas Murray. It took them 6-7 years but their victory in the 2006 justified that what they were doing was right. Coaching against a Swedish team is much different than when I played against them as they are no longer willing to be intimidated. You ask a question asked by many. Why should hockey be different than other sports? I would say that why wouldn't it want to be unique? I don't want soccer or basketball on ice. I teach my younger players that they are not to fight and would like to see that as a rule until pro. There is nothing worse than seeing or having been that 16 year old getting challenged and fighting a 19-20 year old. That is when fighting is very dangerous in my opinion. Plus,if you are a third line talent you feel that if you back down, you may not be playing much longer. At the NHL level, I understand why most coaches employ the guys they do. It needs to be understood that the vast majority of these guys are not as talentless or dumb as many on this site feel they are. They understand their role/job. They sometimes sit for many minutes and are thrown out cold against 1st liners who have been playing. Sometimes they do not fare well statistically but their goal is to bang some bodies, hopefully get the puck deep and change some momentum. They are often some of the smartest players and best team guys. Detroit tries to get by without a tough guy but they are not anti fighting. If they could find another Probert, they would be all over that.

You mention soccer and basketball. I mentioned neither. I don't consider those overly physical sports (I have played both).

I did mention Auzzy Rules Footbal (my new 2nd favorite sport to watch next to hockey), Rugby and Football, none of which allow fighting.

I'm not saying I'm completely against fighting in hockey at this point, however I think if the NHL came out next week and said "no fighting allowed", I wouldn't be disappointed.

As human beings we have to learn how to handle our anger and agression through all frustrating aspects of our life. You start punching someone in the face because you're mad at them - you could go to jail. Rugby, Auzzy rules Football and Football players had to learn to control their agression and not face punch. Just sayin'

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#85 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 04:15PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

"You mention soccer and basketball. I mentioned neither. I don't consider those overly physical sports (I have played both). "

Well, I won't completely disagree with you, but in spite of being ostensibly a non-contact sport, soccer can get very rough. I know this from experience.

Of course, I'm also tiny. That was likely at least half the problem...

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#86 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 04:42PM
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TRAV wrote:

I can understand playing your heavyweight when the other squad has big tough guys in their lineup. I prefer real hockey fights that result from on ice events but I have argued here in the past that I can support a McGratton in the proper situations. I DON'T think he should be in the lineup tonite. This would have been a perfect game to get one of the kids in from Abby. Detroit doesn't fight and won't be intimidated by McGratton. I would far rather see a Knight on the fourth line. You can't tell Backs to play better offensively and then plug him between Bouma and Grats for seven minutes. I think that maybe coach potato had suggested rolling four decent lines. To me this would be a great game to employ that strategy.

Finally are there any free agent Dmen that we could bring in and then swap at the deadline for a draft pick. It seems maybe we are thin down on the farm with injuries etc...

Thanks Trav for the plug for rolling four lines, while I have consistently been calling for this I know there are several others who also support this idea. If you kept the current 3 lines and add an offensive player from Abby to Backlund and Bouma you could do this. Unfortunately they have not brought anyone up at this point. Why I like this idea?; is it encourages development and ultimately creates team depth. No one in their right mind would suggest that we have any elite forwards on this team. What we have is a number of good to maybe very good forwards and a number of average to good forwards. By playing 4 lines you could match a line of sound NHLers who can also play D against some of the more high end lines and still generate some O from this line, Your other 3 lines get to play against other teams secondary lines which could create interesting matchups or where down the other teams lines especially those whose have a fourth line that seldom plays the other 3 lines will get tired faster. This also in no way be tanking the season but create a competitive team and player development.

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#87 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 04:46PM
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@SoCalFlamesFan

fair point, but i would consider breaking when you see a police car a reflexive habit as opposed to a calculus. hence people do it even when they are not speeding.

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#88 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 05:26PM
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@coachedpotatoe

"If you kept the current 3 lines and add an offensive player from Abby to Backlund and Bouma you could do this."

Yeah.. add Corban Knight or Roman Horak to that unit and suddenly Backlund isn't toiling in purgatory any longer... at least, as long as they get above ten/game.

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#89 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 06:10PM
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No Billins tonight for the Heat. Possible callup?

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#90 chillout
November 01 2013, 06:23PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

you've obviously never been in a scrum. tons of face punching and dirty stuff going in there.

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#91 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 06:41PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

No Billins tonight for the Heat. Possible callup?

Based upon stats from the Heat d he is the most likely. He was an important addition in the off season. Lets see.

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#92 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 06:49PM
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Heat tied 2-2, Ortio in net, Grandlund ties it near end of 2nd, from Knight. Don't know who scored in the first.

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#93 Ryan Pike
November 01 2013, 06:49PM
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@schevvy

I think it looks pretty good. The logo's just too wacky for me.

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#94 schevvy
November 01 2013, 06:53PM
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@coachedpotatoe

Reinhart scored the 1st goal assisted by Brady Lamb and Ben Street

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#95 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 06:59PM
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@coachedpotatoe

It's nice to see Granlund having a decent north american debut. I've always been sort of vaguely interrested in him as a player, being the only European drafted by Feaster and company (until Rafikov). The more so since I saw the release on his shot in the WJC last year, and then of course with his big summer.

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#96 Ryan Pike
November 01 2013, 06:59PM
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Considering that the Flames play on Sunday in Chicago, I'm not sure what the value would be of the Heat sitting somebody on Friday night if they're going to have Saturday off anyway.

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#97 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 07:31PM
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Gee nice rebound Brodeur... Er, MacDonald.

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#98 SoCalFlamesFan
November 01 2013, 07:42PM
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Just got home, and they are down by a goal. Are they playing well, at least?

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#99 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 07:46PM
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MacDonald has effortless side-to-side movement. In that he puts no effort at all into moving side-to-side.

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#100 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 07:49PM
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I was listening to the game on the radio until just now. It sounds like the Pavel Datsyuk show.

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