Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How Low Can The Red Wings Loss Total Go?

After the stink bomb the Tigers dropped, it’s almost humorous to see the reaction many Detroit-area sports fans have about the start of the Red Wings’ season.
The Red Wings have the makings of a truly great team. They didn’t just win the Stanley Cup last season - they steam-rolled to it. And seldom in the history of sports, has a team that dominant added this significantly following their championship. Maybe never. Marian Hossa is one of the top dozen forwards in the world. Brad Stuart will be with the Red Wings the entire season. Ty Conklin was second in the NHL in save percentage in 2007-08. And nobody, other than Dallas Drake, is gone.
How can Ville Leino not be on this team? Looks like he could score 20 goals right now in the league.
Darren Helm can fly. Proved himself on the playoff stage. He didn’t make it, either.
So I must bring up a point. It’s about a number. The number is 10. Can the Red Wings go this season with less than 10 defeats. Single-digit losses. It has been done before, by the Canadiens in the 1970s, sandwiched around a couple other seasons in which the Habs almost did it, too.
It’s understood, the regular season means far less than the playoffs. But it could be something to shoot for. I know, I know - don’t jinx ‘em. But you must admit, it is a legitimate question.

Random Thoughts

- Everybody raves about youngsters Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews - as they should - but the Blackhawks best player is Patrick Sharp. He is the one who usually inflicts the most damage on the Red Wings. Sharp is a very, very underrated player.

- The key for Michigan Saturday will be Sam McGuffie. If he has a breakout game - and he is capable of it - the Wolverines will rout Toledo.

- It’s more than a coincidence Bill Laimbeer keeps winning WBNA championships with the Shock. Maybe that success shouldn’t be overlooked the next time an NBA job comes open. Obviously he knows what he is doing.

12 Comments:

Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book, Book, Book,

Why do you tempt fate so?

I think we are all expecting the Red Wings to be great. But I know there is always the "I didn't see that coming" fate - which hit the Tigers right in cow-bells several times over and over and over again this year.

But I don't see the number being as low as ten. I don't think injuries will play a roll - this teams depth is ocean-like. But I do think the hungry factor will come into play. There is the contentment-effect on most teams in most sports after a championship season (except the NFL). In the very back of their minds a feeling like a big stretch after a long sleep and a wonderful dream - "Ok, it's time to go show them how great we are" - although not on purpose - or consciously. .

So this year, if they go the regular season with ten or less losses, I will be happy to say "I didn't see that coming".

But they better be strong enough for the playoffs.

My apologies to my former Maple Leaf Nation - I'm defecting!

Where do I get sworn in?

12:42 PM 
Blogger D_Fenner said...

If ever there were a team that could make a run at 10 losses or less in a Salary Cap era, it has to be this Red Wings team. I think single digit losses is going to be tough, but 15 or less seems very, very likely to me.

Ville Leino appears to be too talented to lose. He is only signed for this season, and it would pain me to see him have success somewhere else. My prediction: with the Wings having to sign Franzen, Hossa, Zettererg, and Hudler next offseason, I think Hudler will be expendable and Leino steps in next season.

- Dan

1:52 PM 
Anonymous Chris said...

Hi Book, I agree with the Red Wings, I think fans are looking forward toward hockey season since the Lions have thrown in the towel. I have a Baseball question. Who do you like in the World Series? I see the Phillies and the Rays, I think Boston has to many injuries and the Phillies manager will pitch around Manny.

1:54 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

That would be cool to lose less than 10, but in '95-'96 when they went 62-13-7 they didn't even win the Stanley Cup. (That came the next year.) They didn't look like they were going to lose 10 games that year either, but they lost a few at the end that didn't really matter anyway. I really doubt they will try to avoid losing 10, unless there is another team keeping pace and they are trying to keep home ice advantage.

-Marty

3:30 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Obviously, there is much truth to what you say. Doesn't matter how great an NHL team is, there is a tendency to lose a road game, say, in January in Nashviie. I just have a feeling, based on the Red Wings work ethic, which is extraordinary, they may rise above that. The 70s Canadiens did.
Caputo

5:24 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

d-fenner,
Leino sure was impressive during the exhibition season. I imagine they will do everything possible to keep him for the long term.
Caputo

5:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chris,
It depends if the Dodgers can win a game in the Philles little ball park. Not sure they can. I still pick the Red Sox - despite everything. Guess I don't believe in the Rays as much as most baseball people. Or maybe I'm just disgusted by the notion of the World Series being played in that awful baseball stadium.
Caputo

5:29 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
You're right. If they are that dominant, they could lose a few games at the end to rest for the playoffs. And that has never really worked out too well for them. The Wings' superior depth may change that. Young players they may play in March will have something to prove and likely will be capable.
Caputo

5:32 PM 
Anonymous Hollis Keys said...

Book, I became a Blackhawks fan when I tired of the sushi soft Wing teams of Bryan Murray in the early nineties. I came back when Scotty Bowman became coach. I have truly enjoyed this run which began in 95 until now but one thing bothered me about last year's team-their struggles with the Blackhawks. If there will be a fly in the ointment this year it will come from the Hawks if the Wings do not raise their intensity level against them because Denis Savard and Dale Tallon have set their standard of excellence directly reflecting how they do against the Wings. It will be against them where Helm and Leino will be missed-they can match the speed and youth of the up and coming Blackhawks like Sharp and Toews.

11:33 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book, Book, Book,

Why dd you tempt fate so?

I read your column this morning "Minor hang-up" in the OP. That was some pretty harsh smack you laid on the Leafs man. Cherry says the Leafs are playoff bound. You make them sound like scum?

So I have forwarded this off to Toronto. A bunch of hosers with two-fours should knocking on your door by the afternoon.

I feel like my new girlfriends family is smaking around my ex-wife of twenty years. But only after ex-wife whooped my new girlfriend.

Perhaps I should be living in a trailor?

12:50 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Hollis Keys,
Great points about the speed factor. The Red Wings, overall, are exceptionally skilled, but there are faster teams. The Blackhawks might be one of them.
Caputo

12:58 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I'm definitely eating crow on this one. I thought it'd be a 5-0 game. Saw no chance for the Leafs. I don't think it means much ultimately. That doesn't seem like a playoff team to me, although the Eastern Conference is kind of weak overall. The Red Wings played poorly by their high standards.
Caputo

12:59 PM 

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