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Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings: Bittersweet Statistics‏

Detroit Red WingsRecords are a curious thing. In hockey, stats seem to be so very important, and there are so many, that whenever a goal is scored, I half expect to hear that it was Zetterberg’s 5th backhanded goal of the season, 3rd when at even strength and 1st from the left side of the crease against goaltenders called Ray Emery, or something equally as asinine.

The Red Wings took the bull by the horns, and posted a 5-0-0 record, the best start since 1972-73, where Detroit posted 6-0-0, but failed to make the playoffs come the post season, with Montreal defeating Chicago in the 1973 final, by 4 games to 2. Maybe I heard the stats more since I was actually in the USA at the time the Red Wings beat the Blue Jackets 5-2, and upon leaving the Joe Louis Arena, the radio was full of excited commentators and phone-in fans waxing lyrical about the amazing season that was in store for Detroit, and how with 5 wins from 5 we were looking unstoppable.

In all fairness, they were right. We DID look unstoppable. The non-existent powerplay had been 0 for 18, until that night, where Johan Franzen scored twice, and Lidstrom tallied in the 3rd to go 3 for 5 with the man-advantage. Suddenly, the powerplay issues were over, and Detroit would head to Washington full of confidence motivation, and a defence that was as stingy as they come, with just 7 goals conceded in 5 games, and 2 shutouts among their results.

Wrong. A 7-1 pummelling at the Capitals opened the floodgates and everyone was trying Detroit on for size. Losses were piling up and being beaten by the Caps was just the start. The Wings found themselves losing to Columbus, San Jose, Minnesota (twice) and Calgary, scoring just 6 goals in 6 games. The free-scoring, tight defence Red Wings were suddenly the no scoring, slack defence Red Wings, and after posting 5-5-1, the fans and media were getting restless.

Someone needed a good thrashing. We needed to play tight defence, slick offence and give some poor unsuspecting team a thorough stuffing. Enter the Anaheim Ducks.

Mike Babcock has only so much tolerance. Apparently, his coaching techniques become more aggressive as his frustration grows, and the Red Wings looked not only determined, but a little bit terrified when they took to the ice to face the Ducks. However, the team did was they needed to do. A solid defence performance resulted in Howard’s second shutout of the season, and the forwards did their job, potting 5 times to leave the Ducks in disarray.

The stats which had lauded the Red Wings for so long were coming back to haunt them. They went from best start since 1972, through to losing 6 straight for the first time since February 08, and acording to the Elias Sports Bureau, they were also the first team in League history to start a season 5-0-0 then follow it with a winless skid of six games or more.

I honesty, it didn’t matter who we played, the thirst for revenge meant that the Wings would play fast, hard hockey. Poor Jonas Hiller was on the receiving end, being peppered with 45 shots before being pulled in place of Dan Ellis, with Detroit forcing a total of 50 shots on goal by the final horn.

So what have we learnt from this? In Detroit’s case, we’ve learnt that winning is habitual, but so is losing, and it’s much easier to break the winning habit than it is the losing habit. I think one thing that’s key here though, is that when you break the losing skid, it’s best to do it with a big win over a top goalie, rather than scraping an OT or SO win over a backup netminder. There’s much more confidence around the Detroit camp now, and despite the failures we’ve already covered, there is still an air of expectancy. 6-5-1 isn’t great, but at the same time, considering the way we’d been playing during that 6 game losing streak, and the lack of goals we were scoring, I think any win is going to be a boost, let alone a big win and a shutout.

The other thing learnt is that when you’re winning, you want to hear all the stats you can about how great the team is, but when you’re losing, you really want those commentators to shut the hell up…

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One comment for “Detroit Red Wings: Bittersweet Statistics‏”

  1. I must say I was shocked to learn that the Red Wings lost that many games in a row. Having been a long time San Francisco 49er fan, where we had a run of 15+ winning seasons - you have to ask yourself if your team can continue it’s tradition of being ‘powerhouse’ year after year in the modern sports era. I’m not saying they’re a bad team, but I sit here thinking eventually ALL teams have to rebuild.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | November 7, 2011, 10:45 am

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