Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Suddenly, the Red Wings find themselves in a difficult situation

Nicklas Lidstrom is not going to play tonight at Columbus because of an injury. Pavel Datsyuk was already out because of knee surgery. The Red Wings have lost three games in a row and have dropped to the fourth-seed in the Western Conference for the playoffs - with Nashville just two points behind them. The trade deadline passed Monday and the Red Wings didn't deal for a forward, which many had anticipated.
What's happening here? The euphoria of the Red Wings' NHL record 23-game home winning streak has vanished in just a few days.
Panic? Don't know about that. But make no mistake, while the Blue Jackets are a horrible hockey team, the Red Wings, who are 15-16 on the road this season, desperately need a win tonight.
And it's not all on Joey MacDonald rising to the moment in goal.
Johan Franzen hasn't played well recently. He needs to tonight. Henrik Zetterberg is the lone Red Wings' resident superstar who is dressing tonight. He must be productive.
The Red Wings' called up Brendan Smith. He is potential star. He has been kept "overly ripe" as general manager Ken Holland likes to refer to the Red Wings letting their players develop at Grand Rapids. Well, they need him now. Not just as a sixth defenseman, but to show his considerable skill with Lidstrom out.
This shouldn't be a tough game for the Red Wings to win tonight, regardless, but they have not responded well to Datysuk being sidelined, and they haven't in the past when Lidstrom hasn't played. For example, when he didn't play against Montreal earlier this season because of the flu, the Red Wings were blown out 7-2.
If the Red Wings don't win tonight, especially if they don't get any points, panic might be in order. Ever other top contender in the Western Conference is playing well. The Red Wings have gone from having the best record in the league to having home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs be put in jeopardy with remarkable swiftness.


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