I think I figured out the lines, guys. Babs is ALL about overcoming adversity and earning the right to feel good about yourself and working your way back up through the lineup, so anytime someone starts playing poorly, Babs gets excited because this is an opportunity for a player to grow, so he demotes them to the third or fourth line. Except Sheahan has been on the club for over a year, now, and hasn't had a poor stretch yet. And Babs is baffled and upset because Sheahan hasn't had that opportunity to build character or whatever. So Babcocks is all "whatever, I'll give you adversity myself! Glendening! Miller! You guys are playing with Sheahan now!" And that's the story of how Mike Babcock saved Sheahan from himself.
Rumor has it... In two years it will be held on the moon.
We feel there's an untapped market of abandoned lunar NASA equipment who could really grow the game of hockey. My assistant also tells me that the moon is cold enough to maintain a "hockey climate", so really its Florida's market potential with Canada's climate. What's not to like??
Well like Mike Babcock likes to say, you've got to earn more minutes and better linemates. If Brendan Smith isn't getting the minutes or the linemates, it's because Babs doesn't think he deserves them. Should be be gifted more opportunities just because? I mean, ALL players will produce more with more minutes and better linemates. That's a truism. Doesn't mean you deserve them though. Clearly the coach doesn't think he does.
Oh, Smith screws up just as much as everyone else eh? So why's he on the third pair? Did Babs just arbitrarily decide Smith would be down there, despite being just as good as everyone else?
Of course not.
Brendan Smith is on the third pair because he's not a better defenseman than Kronwall, Ericsson, Dekeyser, or Quincey. Which, coincidentally, is why people focus on him more. Because he's not as good. And screws up more often.
That, or Mike "Greatest Coach in the League" Babcock is actively trying to make this team worse because he doesn't like Smith. I'm sure that's it.
I can only focus on one of your obsessions at a time, so pick Babcock or Smith and lets just stick with one subject for the time being.
Yes, with just under two seasons of NHL experience, Smith is currently playing on the third line. I'm not sure why this is so blasphemous. Or is it because he was drafted in the first round that somehow means he needs to be a top 3 defenseman at this point in his career? And to be completely honest, I think its a good place for him to play given where he is in his development and where he can contribute the best for the team. Out of all the Wings' defensman, Smith is fourth behind Kronwall, Eriksson, and Kindl for giveaways/game, but Eriksson is a late round pick so I guess he doesn't count, and both Eriksson and Kronwall are on the first line, so apparently they're just better and we should ignore their screwups. Smith, however is our best defensman when it comes to takeaways per game, and he's also the best defensman in giveaway/takeaway ratio. We've heard repeatedly that Babcock assesses performance on who has the puck after you, and who has the puck before you. By this data Smith is doing quite well where he's placed in the roster because he's doing more for his team on the third line when it comes to gaining puck possession than any other defender is on any other line. So keep him where he's helping the team out the most, and if an injury should happen to someone in the top four and Smith gets his chance to reproduce his value on a different line then good for him. If not, he's still playing effective, possession-based hockey where he's at, and steadily improving as well. And in the meantime people will continue to focus exclusively on Smith when he happens to lose the puck apparently because he's a third line defensman. I personally prefer looking at all defensman (or any player for that matter) objectively and analyzing their play accordingly, regardless of what line they happen to play on or where they were drafted.
I hadn't realized Smith was playing particularly bad this season. He has mistakes here and there, but so does Quincey, Dekeyser, Oulette, Kindl, Lashoff, Ericsson, and Kronwall. Its funny how often Kronwall turns the puck over in the defensive zone, and yet its almost exclusively Smith that people latch onto and obsess over.
Because in Babcock's post-game interview last night, instead of being happy about his team scoring 5 goals he mumbled something about the team's sloppy play at times.
So tonight the Wings will be playing tight, defensive Babcock hockey and lose 2-1 in the shootout.
I don't agree with this notion that Babcock is coaching the team to play for super low scoring games that cripple any offense for the opponents as well as us. Last year, yes, when the Wings were crippled with injuries the Wings were definitely playing very tight defensive hockey games and were very cautious. Makes sense, as they simply didn't have the personelle to compete against other teams skill-wise. This year its a different story. Our defense have been pinching in the o zone regularly to keep the play alive, they've been carrying the puck deeper through the neutral zone on breakouts, our forwards have been playing to support the puck carrier down low rather than staying high to support our defense should a turnover occur (I'm pretty sure Tatar Sheahan and Jurco all play within 15 feet of the puck in the offensive zone at any given time). Hell, the Wings' mantra for the first couple months of the season was play fast as hell on the forecheck, and suffocate the opposition in the offensive zone. They got away from that I think in December, but the past few weeks I think the Wings have been playing similar to those first couple months. I mean, yes, the Wings are responsible defensively, as any playoff team should be, but its clear that generating offense is part of the game plan as well.
and Mrazek has been killing it in net. He's putting up some really impressive numbers, and I'm hoping nhl.com decides to inlcude his name on the stat sheet so its easier to see where he sits league-wide.
All the discussion in this thread made me interested to see how the Wings stacked up exclusively against playoff teams, as well as how other playoff teams compared. Unfortunately I couldn't find anywhere online that conveniently had all this data organized, so I went through it all myself (as such there's bound to be errors). Anyway, the following is a tally of the number of wins and losses (I did not count OT or shootout losses as a separate category, just W and L) of all the current playoff teams against each other, and organized from best percentage to worst:
1. Canadiens 13W 9L 22GP 59.1%
2. Ducks 14W 10L 24GP 58.3%
3. Islanders 14W 10L 24GP 58.3%
4. Predators 10W 8L 18GP 55.6%
5. Lightning 10W 9L 19GP 52.6%
6. Blackhawks 11W 10L 21GP 52.4%
7. Canucks 11W 10L 21GP 52.4%
8. Penguins 11W 10L 21GP 52.4%
9. Sharks 12W 11L 23GP 52.2%
10. Rangers 11W 11L 22GP 50%
11. Red Wings 9W 10L 19GP 47.4%
12. Blues 11W 13L 24GP 45.8%
13. Capitals 8W 10L 18GP 44.4%
14. Bruins 9W 13L 22GP 40.9%
15 Kings 8W 12L 20GP 40%
16 Jets 7W 15L 22GP 31.8%
A few things stuck out to me when i was compiling this data/looking over it. 1) The Wings have not played as many games against playoff opponents as many of the other teams on this list. Essentially that confirms what most of us already know: the second half of the Wings' schedule will be considerably tougher than the first half. But also, many of these teams may have a smoother road to the playoffs than us. Although its still tough to gauge opposition quality with this list, because we aren't considering specifically what teams everyone has to face, as well as the relative difficulty of the nonplayoff teams that each team has to play.
Secondly, like the overall standings in the NHL, there really isn't a whole lot separating the majority of teams here. The Canadians, Ducks, and Islanders are pretty comfortably a +500 team, the Jets and Kings are pretty well below 500. The Bruins are too, but as they get healthier, they've been playing much better of late, so I'm hesitant to include them with the Jets and Kings, although for the sake of unbiased statistics they technically should be included in that bottom grouping. But the other 10 teams on that list are each within 2 games of 500. In other words, if the outcome of just one previous game went differently for any of these teams, they would find themselves at 500, or on the opposite side of 500 than they currently are. So parody, I guess.
Some suprises: I guess I never really considered the Canadiens to be as good as they are, because the Wings always seemed to be in striking distance of them, and something about their playoff run last year just seemed flukey to me. But lo and behold they're actually the best team in the league against playoff teams at this point. I was also suprised to the the Lightning as low as they are. They've been getting a lot of hype, and probably rightfully so, but I was expecting them to have a better record than that.
Finally, I don't have any way to quantify this because I'm too lazy, but as I was tallying up the wins and losses, it was quite apparent how streaky some teams are. Some of those records were 5-0, 7-2, 1-8, etc before eventually levelling off around 500. I would have a good streak of wins tallied for some team and it would get me thinking "wow this team has been killing it", then all of a sudden December hits and the team goes on an equally as crazy losing streak, or vice versa.