Except that it wasn't Holland at all. Babs, Dats, and Z, wanted him back. Holland's got a lot to be ashamed of (Tootoo, Sammy) but this one ain't on him. Here's the quote...
"Nyquist could have made the Wings to start the season. But Holland signed 40-year-old free agent Daniel Alfredsson, and then he re-signed 34-year-old Dan Cleary in training camp. Cleary was a surprise, because he had bad knees and better offers elsewhere. But coach Mike Babcock wanted him back. The team leaders wanted him back – from Howard to Zetterberg to Datsyuk. And he came back on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, when he turned down the Wings’ offer of three years at $2.25 million per on July 5 and the Flyers, Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets were offering three years at $2.75 million per."
Man, imagine how much Cleary is kicking himself now... looking like he could be washed-up after this season because of his health and poor play. Sad to see the guy leave that much on the table and have it go sour, especially with all the great memories here, but the fact remains he should have never been brought back.
The Howard-bashing needs to stop. He certainly hasn't looked great this season, but his track record (especially in the playoffs) should give him the benefit of the doubt. He made some amazing saves tonight despite his defense ending up out of position on almost every play. The first goal was broken coverage that gave Plekanec an open shot from the slot. This was probably one that Howard could have stopped, but good shooters score from there all the time. The second was a horrendous turnover in the neutral zone that resulted in a perfectly executed 3-on-2. The third occurred after a blatant interference non-call and was a screened shot with eyes that probably even shocked Desharnais when it went into the net. Number four went off Kronwall; no goalie can stop deflected shots unless they get deflected right into them. Number five was another blown coverage and another deflection that Howard had no chance of saving.
If you want to blame someone for Howard's save percentage, blame our defense.
Is it Howard-bashing to say that Howard hasn't played well? He hasn't. Its nothing personal, but the fact remains that the stats are crap and the anyone that watches the game can see he isn't tracking pucks well, his glove has been wavering, his rebound control is non-existent, and his body language after goals doesn't instill confidence.
Every game we can do the postmortem on each goal and find a screen, or a bounce, or a "good shot". When we end up blaming zero goals on the goaltender who is routinely letting in 3-5 goals, you might have to look at your own objectivity. I'm not saying every goal is Howard's fault. I'm saying the trend is that he lets in a lot of goals at the worst possible time and he needs to own that as much, if not more than our crappy defense.
The team absolutely needs a new philosophy and identity.
Holland keeps bringing in players to try to tweak the Red Wings machine and keep it running for another year, but it stopped working a few seasons ago.
This offseason they can shed a lot of dead weight and have a big opportunity to change the philosophy and identity of this team.
Babcock is the best coach in the business. I disagree with a lot of what he does, but lately in interviews, I get the sense that the change in philosophy and identity can come with Babcock still in place. The way he has been handling these kids and the injury replacements this season has been stellar in my opinion.
Holland is much more of a problem than Babs is. If Holland stops clinging to the old guard (see Cleary, Bertuzzi), and seeing what we can do with our young prospects, allows the kids to take a larger role, I think we could be primed for another run in the next few years. Holland needs to stop signing these after-thoughts and "bargain" players. If there isn't a perfect fit on the market or big worthy acquisition, I'd rather see bigger roles for young players in our organization already. We are starting to see our prospects mature, with more and more bubble players that just need a chance.
Mind you, I'm not condoning Holland's "injured players as 'deadline' acquisitions" or "forcing 3rd-line grinding winger onto the 1st line means we got our new top-6 guy" bullsh*t. I'm saying I'd rather bring in a young bubble player in coming years rather than signing plug after plug for the sake of filling roster space. If we continue to incrementally bring in our young guys and supplement them with only actual good fit or big impact signings, I can see Babcock's coaching get new life in the coming years while remaining with the Wings.
In the last 18 games, Howard has 10 sub-.900 save percentage performances. Of those 10, 9 resulted in a loss, including the last 3 games. His goals-against over the last 18 games is 3.333 per game.
Is his defense crap? Yes, but at what point do we stop making excuses for him and accept that if you are going to be a good goaltender, you have to make the difficult saves, especially at crucial points in the game. As I've said elsewhere, he allows his glove hand to dip, resulting in two goals tonight, his rebound control is as bad as its ever been (which is really saying something with Howard), and the way he has been the last few games reminds me of his early season stretch of awfulness. By the the second goal you could read in his body language that he was feeling sorry for himself. He looks lethargic at times and he is allowing back-breaking goals.
Is the problem honestly that this injury-depleted team can't score an average of 4+ goals per game to win? Bad as our defense has been, Howard has been just as bad, and getting worse.
The 3rd period collapse has to stop. Tonight the officiating contributed directly, but the trend remains. Howard needs to bear down, our defense needs to play more conservatively, and overall discipline needs vast improvement after 40. You can tell the moment the opposition starts to get some zone time and the Wings start playing nervous and turning over pucks. After that its just a matter of time. Get it fixed, Babs!
Down the stretch its the veterans that have let this team down big time. Franzen-Legwand-Alfredsson line has been getting pushed around too easily and Mule hasn't done jack to carry this team forward while his compatriots are out. In the last 9 games, Franzen has a single assist and is -4.
Great game by Smith, terrible game by Kindl and Lashoff causing unnecessary pressure against, Franzen took the night off, and disappointingly we gave up yet another two goal lead, including a one goal lead in the third. Luckily Nyquist-Sheahan-Tatar made sure to secure us a point.
Huge game versus Columbus on Tuesday. A loss ties us in points and games-remaining with BJs holding the tie breaker. A win separates us by 4 points, and keeps us above the pack.
Nyquist's 19 goals in 43 games are good for tops on the team, and prorated over 82 games puts him at a 36 goal pace as a rookie with ever-rotating linemates and responsibilities. The sky is the limit for this kid in coming years and really shows more glaringly the poor free agent decisions Holland has made over the past 4-5 years.
Until his hand was forced, Holland had through his own awful signings of Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, Cleary, and Tootoo buried our 3rd-most talented skater in the minors. Too many signing touted as "bargains" or "good fits" as an excuse to sign inferior players to fill the wrong roles on the wrong side of their prime instead of signing a single impact player or allowing over-ripe prospects to step up and learn.
Simply put: Stop signing over-priced plugs as some consolation price for missing out on true impact players. Hopefully next season we cut some fat, use what we have in our young guys, and sign someone useful to fill important roles - a big bodied scorer and a top-4 defenseman. Looking down the line, the only UFAs that could/should be resigned are Legwand, Alfie, and Gustavsson.
The Wings defense and goaltending was suspect all game, and you can't spot a team two two-goal leads the way they did out of the gate and expect to win.... THAT SAID, when OT started it was 4-4 and the game was decided after that point. It was decided by a dive, and after the refs let plenty of grappling go in the 3rd. They decided the game the second they decided (read: chose) to call another soft trip and obvious dive. After that, the script went perfectly, OV with the winner at home in OT on Super Bowl Sunday.
Great game by Z, Nyquist, and the kids. Really, extraordinary.
Howard couldn't find the puck, our defense was all thumbs and left feet, and the officiating was soft as hell.
The pathetic thing here is, again, how the league's officials reward these dive-artists. The Wings fight through the same holds, hooks, sticks in feet, and cross-checks that made the Caps fold like a lawn-chair. What is called a penalty and what was let go after the 2nd period was completely unpredictable, and thus terrible.
This isn't news, but it never ceases to infuriate. The biggest difference in games like this is that the Wings refuse to go down, while the Caps flop, throw hands up, and dive relentlessly. The league has done nothing to fix the diving and bulls***. The second we got to OT I knew what the perfect ending for the network was: penalty and OV goal.