Watching the Rags game and then reading the GDT I felt moved to post, given the vaguely suicidal feel to many of the posts.
While I'm not averse to a coaching change, it might be worth noting that not only are the wings a playoff bubble team in transition, but they are currently having to dress Zetterburg, Bertuzzi, 3 borderline 4th liners and the AHL team.
Oh my God lets kill ourselves and burn it down because we can't score and are losing ground. Well our star forward, 3 of our 5 top scorers, our big (albeit woefully underachieving) UFA signing and our only 3rd liners with any scoring threat and chemistry with the other players are all missing at once. Which leaves kids and the players who wouldn't be good enough to play filling in. Out of the team that iced tonight, up front its only really Z, Abdelkader, Miller and Nyquist who are guaranteed to even be playing here next year (barring trades). 1's a dime a dozen 4th liner who can PK, Abdelkader is a good team player with no scoring touch, and Nyquist is as cold as ice (and was unlucky off the post at the end). Sure Jurco has talent, but his lack of strength is exposed at this level, and Sheahan looks a long term defensive forward.
As for the rest..cleary's a busted flush who has no legs left at all, despite the willingness of his spirit; Bert is a big body with good hands who is all but useless without a top playmaker and speed with him; Sammy is only here because we get nothing for sending him down and no one else wants him; Eaves is only up because of injuries, but is a serviceable 4th liner; Emmerton is just a warm body; Glendenning is an angry warm body who may one day make a genuine 4th liner...
To put it another way, tonight we were without our planned centre's for all 4 lines, plus 3 of our top 5 scoring wingers (including Z here), and out top defensive D man. That's a lot to take out of a team against opposition in form. For a team who is already in mid evolution, its just too much. More importantly its the players with the attributes this team needs most (shooting, speed, composure) that are all out at once and Z is playing hurt. The penguins did great with their injuries, but even they didn;t have such a concentration of key players all out at once.
The effort was there, we had over 35 shots (despite giving up a stupid amount), and Henrik actually made 3 or 4 world class saves...plus we dinged the iron. With half a team and some AHL scrubs. Much like last year, at least we are getting a good look at the next wave. Tats and Goose (though snakebitten) are now locks in this team. Sheahan and Jurco have shown they can contribute at this level in the right roles. Glendenning might make a useful AHL man who will clear waivers when needed next year (if waivers apply), and we have seen enough from Oullett and Marchenko to know that even if we can't snag a big UFA D-man this year, replacing Quincey will probably be a better value upgrade. So the evolution and youth movement we have all been bitching about is happening, and the only players who appear to have no value as future players or trades are the ones we all knew had no value anyway.
The playoffs may be on the line, and we find ourselves 2 points on the outside looking in, and with plenty of company. But sure SOME of the walking wounded will be back before the Olympics? Tatar has been a real spark and he's back, and appears to be channelling his loss to help the team. Of course our PP is struggling....but then its our goalscorers who are missing. I also think that the likes of Jurco & Sheahan have shown enough to suggest they can contribute if they stay up.
Obviously the problem is people like Sammy and Cleary, who without doing anything wrong contribute almost nothing, but also have no room to improve. The latter can still occasionally complement the right players, but not much. Bert is not much better, but his size and instincts mean that he still is worth his place as he brings attributes that we lack.
I'm concerned about this year, but I'm really looking forward to next year already. Cleary, Sammy and Quincy are all gone for sure. Bert may be depending on his performance over the next few months. Eaves will be off to take an opportunity somewhere where his skillset isn't duplicated. We'll be left with a core of those have proven their worth even this year and those who have shown improvement that gives hope. Even Smith is looking pretty stable now he is more often free from the clutches of Quincy. We'll be out of our cap crunch, and places will be up for grabs for the senior kids at camp. I hope Alfie stays, but if not there are a few FAs that can contribute. Weiss is the big worry, but we'll see.
Personally, I think we'll squeeze into the playoffs much like last year, bolstered by getting healthy just in time, and then will upset a top seed or two in the postseason, much like last year.