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.
I could've sworn we just went 4-2 on a road trip. We are on a par with, or within touching distance of, every good team in the league. We're over halfway through the season, there's only 6 points separating the top-10 teams, and we are in that grouping. We're top-10 in points, PP, PK, Face-offs, SA and GA. 12th and 13th in GF and SF which some will no doubt see as evidence of our weakness, but still places us in the top half. Whichever way you look at it, we're a good team. The Toronto's and Colorado's of this world, every other team in the NHL gets to play them too, and guess what? They haven't managed to separate themselves from us by beating up on this supposed trash that we couldn't beat.
And I'm not blaming anything on the SO, but it is a fact that some teams points totals are flattered by it, and others aren't. We are in the latter category.
This is a good post. The Wings are 7-3 in their last ten games, which is as hot as any team has been. Yeah, we've lost to some teams that are below 500, and we've lost to some teams that are near the top of the league. But we've also won a lot of those games, and those losses aren't something that's excusive to the Red Wings. Every team has stinkers, losing streaks, loses against teams they should have beat, etc etc. Its a long season; s*** happens. The important thing in all of this is whether teams can tread water through adversity and not lose their footing in the standings. Minnesota is having trouble with this. Toronto is having trouble with this. Detroit is in good shape right now. We suffered a pretty nasty losing streak about a month ago, but still managed to get a lot of points from OT during that stretch. Right now the Wings are without their number 1 and number 2 goalie. Even so, they keep humming along, and as of this moment we're only three points out of first in our division, and Tampa has played two more games than us.
Mrazek has a .920 save percentage and a 2.16 goals against. Not only are those numbers solid for a #3 goalie, but they're on par with some excellent #1 goalies. Its tough to gauge exactly where he stands because NHL.com doesn't include Mrazek or a handful of others on the list of goalies they rank statistically (presumably because of limited starts), but there are only 5 goalies listed that have a better GAA than 2.16. The .920 save percentage is presently the same as Howard's, who is sitting at 12th in the league at that category. Mrazek is obviously a rookie goalie, and he's going to make rookie mistakes out there, whether that's being too aggressive, too passive, poor rebound control, whatever. But through the ten games that he's played this year, as well as the nine he played last year, Mrazek has proven to be a solid goalie that can be relied upon. The only question now is whether he can do it as a #1 goalie, and not a backup getting the occasional start.