I don't think we are "a long way off from being a legit contender". We compete very well 5-5, we've played good teams closely this season when we've had a (nearly) healthy roster, and we've had solid goaltending (regardless of what the Howard scapegoaters say). We need defense badly. Specifically top minute stay at home defenders (which Holland has confirmed in interviews). Those aren't that expensive. We got Stuart for a 2nd and a 4th. As I've been saying all long, insert a quality shutdown defender alongside Kronwall, move Ericsson to the 2nd pair with Smith, and use whoever (White/Lashoff, Quincey/Colaiacovo, Kindl/Huskins) as the third pair and our defense is noticeably better in all facets of the game. In other threads I've mentioned Regehr, Volchenkov, Mark Stuart, Henrik Tallinder as guys who could be had relatively cheaply and who could fill the role I'm talking about but I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of. A healthy lineup and a solidified defense makes our team a contender, mark my words.
Still with you on Regehr/Volchenkov. Though I feel like Volchenkov would cost something like Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Brunner, Franzen, eight first-round picks, seven unicorn tears, and one full sixty-minute effort this season. ("Oh man," Ken Holland says, "you had me right up until that last one.")
I know a lot of people are down on the Wings right now, but this is kind of expected. The Wings were down in the beginning and then they got better and were good, now they're down again. Its very typical of a team during a shortened season, plus add on all the injuries we've experienced. What did you expect to happen? Take a look around the league, everybody is having big ups and big downs. As long as our ups are long enough to get us into the playoffs, it'll be fine. Right now, the team isn't playing "bad" we're just not holding leads. Its not like when we got dominated by the Blues on opening night. Nothing looked good then. This is fixable and doesn't need an overhaul or rebuild.
"FIne" as in...losing in the first (maybe second) round again because of the same bad habits, glaring weaknesses, etc. that've spelled ultimate defeat for this team for the past however many seasons?
Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate not wanting to get down on the team. And I can appreciate the argument that this may just be injuries taking their toll. And, true enough, that's gotta be at least a minor factor here. The real problem, though? Again: same old crap. "Let's come out flat, then flip a switch for a strong ten minutes to finish the first, then let's start the second with five minutes of glorious, God-powered wrath and fury--BUT ONLY FIVE MINUTES! because we have to spot them a lead on their third shot of the game (versus our 400, all but nine of which were fired from center ice, because, HAVE YOU SEEN HOW BIG THAT DEFENSEMAN IS? What, you expect us to GO NEAR HIM?!), and this'll break our collective back for a good period and a half, and Datsyuk might score or something--WAIT. WHY DO I CARE? I'M MAKING MILLIONS! AND KENNY WILL NEVER CUT ME LOOSE! BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT HE DID LAST SUMMER!"
This is the Detroit Red Wings. Y'know, Hockeytown, USA? Class of the Western Conference? What happened to our high standards and expectations? What happened to "To whom much is given..."?
Warm and fuzzy and endlessly patient and understanding and people-pleasing and overly-sentimental is ok...but too much of it for too long turns everything to mush. (See: "We need more joyyyy!!!")