Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Six Games To Go

Alright. Here we go.

Six games to go until the playoffs begin.

My beloved Wings have lost two straight, blowing a lead to the Predators on Sunday, and losing to the worst-in-the-NHL Islanders on Friday.


The concern here is two-fold. One, we are now four points behind San Jose for The President's Trophy. Which, aside from bragging rights, is a bit of an issue, should we meet San Jose, as everyone expects, in the conference finals. San Jose has been lights out at home, including two wins against Detroit (The Wings won the two games against the Sharks in Detroit).

That scares me a bit. But we'll face that when (if) we get there.

No, the bigger concern here is that, with two weeks left in the season, we have begun to lose to lesser teams. The Islanders game was bad, but I could have called it a one-off.

It's the Nashville game that worries me a bit more.

It's very possible that we could be playing the Predators come April 15 or 16. However, could Babcock be happy about these two losses? This article by Peirre Lebrun (via the On The Wings blog) says he might be.

It's an interesting theory, and I suppose it's better to lose games you shouldn't now rather than in the playoffs, but still, I thought we had our losing streak in January. Last year, it happened in February, when Lidstrom and a slew of others were injured, and the Wings went on an extended loss streak then. It was commonly accepted at the time that those two weeks of hardship lent experience the most experienced of teams, and helped carry them all the way to the cup in June.


But, to lose now is not ideal. We need to enter the playoffs on a strong note. Luckily, we have a fairly easy schedule to close the season out, with four of the remaining six games at home.

Let me state here that I will be happy with no less than five wins, and would definitely like to see a sweep of the home and home with Chicago in the last two games of the season.

Otherwise, not having home ice against the Sharks may not matter, because we might not make it that far.

***

Of course, the other worry in Motown is the goaltending.


Our number 1, Chris Osgood, with his two Stanley Cups, has been less than stellar this year. His .884 save percentage and 3.18 goals against in 42 games are just awful, and well below his career averages (.906 and 2.47).

It doesn't exactly instill confidence.

Our number 2, Ty Conklin has been significantly better than Osgood this year (.912 and 2.43). He has kept Detroit in almost every game he's played in, and I, as a fan, have felt much more confident with Conklin in net this year.

However, he has no playoff experience, other than six minutes played for the Oilers in their improbable cup run against the Hurricanes three years ago (and the reason the Oilers lost the cup, in many of their fan's opinions).

So what do you do? Go with the seasoned goalie who has been here time and time again, but who is having a pretty bad season. Or with the hot goalie whose playoff experience is mainly shaping his own ass groove into the bench and making small talk with the trainers.

Greg Wyshynski writes an intersting blog on this, suggesting we ride Conklin until he proves he can't handle the job. Then, and only then, hand the ropes to Ozzie and hope that he returns to his magic of last year when he took over for Hasek.

However, I disagree.

You have no choice but to start Osgood. He's been there. He's won games, series and Stanley Cups. He understands the pressure, and knows how to handle it.

I have the utmost faith that come playoff time, we will see The Wizard of Oz return to form, and help us defend Lord Stanley's Mug.

And, should he falter at all, we have an extremely capable backup waiting to take his spot.

***

Favourite Player Stat of the Day: Roy Halladay's Sring stats, 7 G, 33 IP, 4 BB, 25 K, 3.27 ERA, 2W, 2L.

Is this guy ready for the season, or what? See you on Monday in Toronto, Roy.

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