Monday, February 18, 2008

Better To Lose Big BEFORE Trade Deadline, Than After

The Red Wings' current six-game losing slide couldn't have come at a better time, really. Better to find out now where your warts are, than later -- i.e., after the upcoming trading deadline of February 26.

Better to know now where you need to apply some blemish cream, because how else will you know where to seek out such an ointment, and what kind to buy?

It's been a combination of things that has the Red Wings on this skid, as it always is; rarely does just one aspect of a team's game cause such a long winless string. It's kind of like a baseball losing streak. One day you get great pitching and defense and lose, 1-0. Then the next, you hit the stuffing out of the ball but lose, 12-10. With the Wings, the goaltending has been suspect at times recently -- the biggest offender being Chris Osgood, who hasn't been the same since signing his contract extension and being named to the All-Star game. I trust this is just a coincidence. Other times, the team defense has looked like orange pylons. The forwards can't score consistently. And, finally, the puck hasn't bounced their way with any regularity.

It all started with that third period meltdown at home against Los Angeles a week ago Thursday. In that game, the Red Wings held a 3-1 lead against the Kings, whose goalie was shaky. The game seemed well in hand -- the kind the Red Wings grind out and put to bed routinely. But the Kings erupted for four goals in the third -- Osgood was smelly on most of them -- and thus started this 0-5-1 streak. An OT loss in Toronto, then a controversial loss at home to Anaheim followed. There wasn't any concern yet. But convincing losses to Nashville and Columbus preceded yesterday's 1-0 loss in Dallas, and suddenly the Red Wings are talking like they'll take any positives they can out of games. In other words, this mighty team speaks of moral victories, in essence.

It's probably all temporary, I'm sure. A 41-10-4 team doesn't suddenly lose it at once. But this streak gives GM Ken Holland some more food for thought as next week's deadline approaches. The danger, for him, is to not overreact and do something he'll regret later. Save that kind of stuff for the fans and the restless bloggers. No telling what cockamamy deals some of these talk radio folks would unleash if given the GM title for even one day. Heck, for one hour.

Funny thing, though: the last time the Red Wings had a seven-game winless streak, it was at the tail end of the 2001-02 season, when they finished 0-5-2. Then they lost the first two games of their first round playoff series against Vancouver, at home.

No sweat; they went on to win the Stanley Cup that June. Just like they planned all along.

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