I can't wait to see Darren Helm score tonight! Wait, he hasn't been playing, you say? Well then I look forward to seeing Todd Bertuzzi dominate the corners and feed Dats the puck! Erm, he's out too? Well I'm still really excited to see Sammuelsson shoot the puck 15 times into the shins of the opponent but score on the 16th shot! Oh, he's missed the whole season? Well at least Cleary has been injured and missed all season too right? Right?? ...You mean to tell me he has been playing this entire time?
So tell me again how is it that we are even in position to win a playoff spot again?? Oh well. Do whatever it is you've been doing and get the two points, in spite of everything!
Bettuzzi's biggest asset, and one our team has desperately needed is his size and puck protection. Our team is not strong on the puck along the perimeter (aside from Dats and Z who are regularly double-teamed). The Wings play much better when they can hold onto the puck down low and dictate the speed of the game. Bertuzzi is good at hanging onto pucks and moving them to open ice, and its going to give Pavel and Z more time and space to be creative.
Having said that, this guy is on a multi-year contract right now if I'm not mistaken, and I think it may be a better option to wait and make sure he's as healthy ad possible before jumping into the chaos at 70-80%. But I'm not the doctor nor the player, so it ain't my call.
I'm holding out hope that Brendan Smith will be able to fill Rafalski's shoes in a couple years, after the rookie mistakes leave his system. He saw the ice so well last year during his brief stint. There's no way those games were all an accident.
Why? Despite leading the league in man games lost, we are in a playoff spot right now, there's no need to blow up the team. Committing your team to selling off your assets is the last option that any GM should think of, and will likely get anyone fired when they're not even bottom dwellers. There's a lot of money to be had in postseason tickets, memorabilia, tv deals, etc which is ultimately what makes owners tick.
There are only a few ways to get players onto a hockey team. Draft them, acquire them through free agency, pick them up off waivers, trade for them. Only one of these options requires you lose something (RFA also I suppose, but that's still a rarity in this league). The salary cap makes draft picks, prospects, and roster players that much more valuable, so trades are that much less desirable an option to collect players for your team. I understand that its frustrating to get your hopes up every trade deadline expecting to land some star, but in today's hockey league its more important than ever to be economic. That means developing your talent, holding onto your picks, and making big roster changes through free agency, not through trades. Its boring, but its also a smart way to go.
I'm in the minority which believes Holland did not make a mistake this deadline by not making any moves.
He was an unknown commodity with no NHL experience when the season began. He scored a few goals early off, had a highlight reel shootout experience, and a few weeks later he's among the lead leaders in goals. Suddenly, teams stopped treating him like a soft Euro and started taking away his time and space. He's more tightly covered whilst sneaking into the slot from the soft-side. Defense are on him much quicker and harder in the corners, and while Brunner can mentally adjust to North American hockey, it will be a slower process to build up the physical strength to be able to fight through the coverage that he is now experiencing.
Secondly, Brunner has really focused hard on playing a more defensively sound game. He is back-checking much more effectively than when the season began, and he's playing much deeper in our own zone instead of floating at the blueline waiting for a breakout. He has also been more conscious of opponent's breakout potentials and is adjusting his game in the offensive zone to accommodate this. His new-found defensive responsibilities are also going to lower his offensive output.
Combined with the brutal North American schedule and travel, its no surprise at all why Brunner has suddenly gone quiet. He's with good role models though, and I suspect that he will be able to overcome the schedule and the added defensive attention he has over the next few years. Given his commitment to learning the defensive side of the game, and how far he has come already, I'd say the guy is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful at this level. Lets hope my assumption is correct.
I think trade prices have steadily been growing steeper and steeper. I'm almost scared at the possibility of Holland making a deal, because I'm worried about what may be going the other way.
Additionally, I wish we were able to see our team play completely healthy, just so we could get a realistic assessment of where our team stands. It's tough to assume what the Wings will look like, even when we know what style of play each injured player has.