Friday, February 06, 2009

Defense, Penalty Kill, Not Ozzie, Red Wings' Biggest Issue

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was critical of Chris Osgood following their win Wednesday over Phoenix, but their biggest issue isn’t goaltending.
They just have too many lapses in their own zone, and are not nearly as proficient at breaking out as they used to be. There have been too many giveaways.
Also, the Red Wings’ penalty-killing unit has been bad. It used to be their great strength. It’s difficult to put a finger on the exact reasons why this is happening. Could be that Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Nicklas Lidstrom are slowing down. They are advancing in age. But I don’t understand the breakdowns from players such as Niklas Kromwall and Brian Rafalski, who were so solid in those areas last season.
Osgood has played better the last couple months after a woefully slow start. His statistics aren’t good, but he has been getting bombarded with a lot more scoring chances than in the past. That’s a cause of the Red Wings’ defensive play overall as much as on Osgood - especially when the Red Wings are short-handed.

Random Thoughts

- Tigers general Dave Dombrowski said something very interesting when I interviewed him Thursday night on 97.1, The Ticket’s Tiger Talk. He said that the Tigers’ first round draft choice in 2007, right-hander Rick Porcello, would pitch every fifth day for the major league club in spring training, and that several scouts and coaches in the organization already feel like he is among the best five starters in the organization, and would be capable of pitching in the major leagues to start the 2009 season. Dombrowski, however, added he isn’t leaning that way.
Porcello has exceptional command of the baseball despite his youth (20). His off-speed pitches are very good. He should move quickly.

- If the Pistons played the Atlanta Hawks in the opening round of the playoffs, would they win the series? As it stands, that’s who’d they play. And they wouldn’t have home court advantage. To me, it would be a toss up. Atlanta is 18-5 at home. It is imperative the Pistons move past the Hawks to secure homecourt advantage.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't your best penalty killer your goalie? I believe the defense when faced with a reason to play will tighten up. D will take hits to make plays, forwards will stop being cute, and keep the game simple. It has too or we have no chance.
Ozzie though has motivation right now, has a reason to perform, he is battling for his job. Babcock has openly said his job is up for grabs, yet he's playing poorly. There is no other hurdle to motivate him to tighten up.
I'm with you, I like Ozzie, Ozzie loves Detroit, and there is something to be said for his performance in 98 and last year, but he's not playing well. Ozzie has always been a good goalie with playoff poise. Makes a solid first save, but has poor rebound control. Defense has lapsed, they aren't covering that rebound like they used to but he's also not making all the first saves he should. He has a history of spotty play and like the players you reference, he's getting old too.
Pat, you always talk about Legacy and Cujo failing other good wings teams in front of them, why is the teams fault when its ozzie?

4:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like hearing Porcello is comming along this quickly. I try not to get too excited about young prospects, but when we need a solid starting pitching rotation like we do, the sooner the better.

What di you think of Bonderman's future? I am not certain his contract, but I am actually tired of watching this project.

9:26 PM 
Anonymous Deano said...


Chris Osgood is an above average goalie. This is who he is and always been. He has never been an elite goalie and has never won a major individual award. His record is has been fattened up by the team that has played in front of him. This year is a perfect example; his won loss record is great but his performance has been horrible. To say he is a Hall of Famer, as you did earlier in the year, is wrong.

2:26 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The goalie is always your best defense - agreed. But Ozzie has been getting bombarded a lot lately. You can't expect the goalie to mask all of what has been poor play defensively. He hasn't played as well as he needs to, that's for sure, but neither have the Red Wings in front of him.

9:53 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Bonderman had a rib removed to take pressure off his shoulder. It has led to better circulation in his fingers, which the Tigers' think will help return his velocity into the mid to high 90s. I understand your point. He is a sub. 500 pitcher in his career with a high ERA when his "stuff" suggests he should be better than that.

9:55 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Guess we'll have to disagree. If he gets to 400 career victories (and he will) with two Stanley Cup titles as the primary goalie, I don't see how you can keep him out of the Hall.

9:57 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, Good points/questions.
Last year their was Lidstrom with Rafalski and Chelios with Kronwall.

The job of Lidstrom and Chelios would be hold the week side (left) pipe while the other defensemen would dig the strong side corners and force turnovers.

Lidstrom and Rafalski have done a decent job of this but at times have slipped as you describe.

Chelios has been substituted by Lilja because of Inury which is like having Herrington fill in for Manning. Lilja does not hug the week side post with the machine fidelity that Lid does. He leaves and gets caught out of position. When he breaks down, the duo with Kronwall breaks down. These failures are often subtle.

Osgood has been weak like he was in '99. Kronwall and Lilja also must stop playing the puck and pick up the body at the blue line and mid circle charge of the D Zone. They are not Pavel.


12:29 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

You make a great point about Kornwall in particular. He does make big hits in the neutral zone, but must do a better job of standing up at the blue line.

2:32 PM 

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