It seems that every fan or analyst watching the Wings play this year is at a loss for words when it comes to our scoring and power play - not that these thing's don't need to improve - but continue to describe those two areas of our team as our Achilles heal. Let me me point out that our depth at forward is NOT the issue with this team.
We have two of the best two way forwards in the world, centering our first two lines. We have them paired with capable, at the very least, players in Franzen, Filpulla, and Brunner. Throw in Bertuzzi, Tatar or Sammy as Datsyuk's other winger and you have one of the better top 6's in the league. Helm as a third line center, with Abby in a role he thrives in (not on Pavs wing as a scorer) and again, a very solid third line. I know injuries have been a big part of the problem this year, but people are forgetting who we have in the lineup when it comes to trade talk.
Our offence has struggled because of our DEFENCE. When you roster such a young, but immobile defense core - your offence struggles the most. With experience comes poise, and with poise comes a better first pass, a smoother transition and a smarter chip to exit the zone. I don't care if you have Datsyuk and Z playing together, if they start every shift in there own zone and spend 15-20 seconds trying to breakout, even there offence is going to struggle.
In our top 6 -
Kronwall - Ericsson
Quincey - Smith
Kindl - Lashoff
You have by all intensive purposes, 3 rookies that seem to play a very similar, conservative game, a player in Quincey who has played 2 full seasons in the NHL, with limited offensive ability, Ericsson who has never cracked the top 4 in his career before doing so by default this year, and the furthest thing from offensively minded, and then Kronwall. I love Kronner but the guy has only been better than +5 once in his career. He only hits in the playoffs, and is actually a better skater than passer (doing little for our forwards).
I have been most disappointed with Smith, hes getting top 4 minutes, had a ton of hype coming into the season about his offensive instincts (which I believe show potential) but has 1 ASSIST this season.
All in all, we need to focus on guys like Bouwmeester, Dekeyser, Streit, Yandle, Gardiner, etc. before even considering adding a guy like Corey Perry at $8.5 mill per. One of those players would help our cause more than I think Perry would, just based on getting out of our zone alone. In all of the games I've watched this year, one thing stands out - the lack of odd man rushes we have produced resulting from a good outlet/stretch pass. The only breakaway I can even remember was Franzen's goal on a pass from Brunner.
Looking back at our last Stanley Cup run in 2008, out of 12 forwards we had in the lineup - 7 are on the team right now. And instead of Hudler, Draper, and Holmstrom - we have Tootoo, Brunner, and Bertuzzi. Helm and Abdelkader are much better players than they were then, so I can really only point to the difference on D as to why that team was a dominant cup winner, and this team is far from guaranteed a playoff birth. Oh ya, and our goaltending that season was a split between Hasek and Osgood. (Ozzie replaced Hasek in the first round). I would take Howard and how hes playing this season over those two.
I know Nick Lidstrom can never be overlooked, but seriously - if he was the difference between winning the cup like we did that year, and making the playoffs, I guess we need to start looking.
Let me know what you think...