Also: really hate to say it, but Howard really does need to figure it out or GTFO. He makes at least a couple fantastic saves a game, but then, don't most NHL goalies? We don't need "most NHL goalies." We need a wall, an impenetrable fortress, a source of strength, a shot in the arm. He's not getting paid the big bucks for "Well, you can't totally blame him for that goal. Or that one. Or that one. Or that one. Or that one. OK, maybe that one. But not that one. Or that one. Or..." At some point, it's on him. Indeed, as Babs has explicitly stated, this team - injured or healthy - will go as far as Jimmy Howard takes it.
This is something that really boggles my mind. It's been an issue all season long, and it's actually gotten worse and worse, to the point where we've been botching probably about a third or a quarter of our passes.
If there's one thing you don't want your team to struggle with, it's passing. If you can't pass, you're toothless and vulnerable in all three zones. Mirror regrouping, breaking out, charging through the neutral zone, cycling - it all becomes an adventure. Compound that with our injuries, Howard's struggles, and everything else, and it really is a wonder that we're still in the playoff picture.
After all these injuries and with only 10 games left the positive is that the Wings are in a playoff spot, that is incredible in itself.
It really is pretty incredible. I mean, we're all bent out of shape about our team not getting it done (and justifiably so, I guess), but, like, look at it from the perspective of a Wild fan. We should've been an easy four points for them. No team has any business being as competitive as we've been with the injuries we're dealing with. (Yeah, I know, the Penguins. But everyone knows that's a lame comparison.) And now we may be getting a bit healthier.
So, yes, losing this game sucks. But that we're even upset about this loss is a remarkable thing. Our season should be over. We should be in free fall mode like the Sens. None of this should matter. And yet, here we are, holding down a playoff spot.
The positive here is that the Wild and Jackets are two very good and mostly healthy teams who are pretty much pushing as hard as they can...and yet we, playing some absolutely godawful hockey and with half our team missing, could've won either or both games. If we can get back to our system and doing the little things right and really minding the details and all that good stuff, we have an ok shot at making the playoffs.
It was nice to see Legwand drill that guy into the boards in Sunday's game. And Franzen had that monster hit in the 'hawks game. I like to think Glendening is rubbing off on the rest of the troops. Or maybe it's just Kronwall saying, "I'm 5'11. I hit. We should be hitting more. We're certainly not possessing the puck enough to justify not hitting."
One thing pretty much every other team in the league does better than us: wearing the opposition down over the course of a game. Making them run around in their zone is part of that, but you also want to make them "pay a price" physically. Do some damage behind their goal line. Crash, bang, punish. Make their defensemen second-guess themselves and look over their shoulders. Rattle them. The Wild did that against us in Sunday's game.