The (True) Summer of Ken

I had planned on writing a bit on where the Red Wings should go from here, following their first-round loss to the Nashville Predators, but over at TPL Petrella already has a nearly-perfect post up so I’m not going to waste time just repeating him.

There’s an entry in the A2Y Glossary for “The Summer of Ken.” A little bit of an ode to Detroit general manager Ken Holland. Put briefly, the summer is Holland’s time to shine. It’s when he can spend Mike Ilitch’s pizza money to plug holes in the Wings’ roster. It’s when he can wheel and deal, turning spare parts into something useful.

This summer we’re going to find out just how good Holland is at his job.

Last year the Red Wings were a little underwhelming in the offseason. They replaced Brian Rafalski with Ian White at a good price and added Mike Commodore for some grit. They retained Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller and Jonathan Ericsson. We were told that they wanted to add more scoring but none was available for the price.

That was okay. The Wings had plenty of cap space, still, and would be able to make a move at the trade deadline. It was good to wait to see who would be available as a rental.

Detroit’s lone deadline acquisition: defenseman Kyle Quincey. Even knowing the outcome, knowing he didn’t play as well as anyone had hoped down the stretch, I’m not against this move. Quincey is not a rental (he’ll either be back or be moved, as an RFA he can’t bolt for free). The first-rounder traded for him will be after all the blue-chip prospects are off the board.

Quincey didn’t fix the Wings’ scoring issues, though.

By the time the trade deadline had passed, Detroit’s forward corps remained unchanged. Holland addressed the media and seemed unhappy that he hadn’t been able to make a move, so we know he tried, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Now we enter an offseason where the Red Wings need to make changes. As Petrella notes, teams have the “Red Wings Way” figured out. Now Detroit needs to evolve. And I worry that Holland can do it.

Name a free agent signing that Holland has made since the salary cap was implemented that really made a splash. Ignore Marian Hossa, since everyone knew going in that it was a one-year deal and he’d be gone the next summer.

The aforementioned White? Hardly a splash no matter how well it worked out. Dominik Hasek? No one else was after him. Todd Bertuzzi?

True, Holland hasn’t been working with the same kind of cap space as he’ll have this summer, but his record does leave a bit to be desired.

Now lets look at trades. Per Petrella, the Wings have a lot of roster spots taken for next season already. One way to make room for new blood while adding the scorer the team needs could be to deal depth for talent.

Holland hasn’t made a significant trade since the 2008 deadline, when he acquired Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings. That’s another piece of track record that could be concerning.

I’m not saying Holland should be fired. He’s done a fantastic job of keeping Detroit’s core together and supplementing it with parts off the scrap heap. Danny Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi? Hasek and Chris Osgood? Classic Holland moves that paid off over time for the Wings.

Right now, though, the Red Wings aren’t looking to plug holes, they’re looking to reload. They need high-profile pieces to make an immediate impact.

It’s a situation that Holland hasn’t faced, at least not in the cap era. I think it will define his career. It will probably define the Red Wings as a team for years to come.

Datsyuk Announced as Selke Finalist

The National Hockey League announced on Monday that the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk is one of three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

David Backes of the St. Louis Blues and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins are the other finalists.

The Selke Trophy is awarded annually to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” as selected by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Datsyuk has previously won the award in three consecutive years, from 2008 to 2010. He was unseated last season by Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks.

No other current Red Wings have won the Selke Trophy. Detroit’s Sergei Fedorov (1994, 1996), Steve Yzerman (2000) and Kris Draper (2004) had won it before Datsyuk.

The winner will be announced on June 20 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Hockeytown Makeover In Order

This is what happens when you have a team of skill but no hunger.

The 2011-12 Detroit Red Wings took their early out of their 21st consecutive playoff appearance with a run that may have just been a sweep by the Nashville Predators.

What the Red Wings have in skill they completely lacked in heart. I would not go as far as say the Dead Wing Era has returned but if things keep going this way they it just might. There was no hunger, no passion, no emotion at all from the machine that is the Detroit Red Wings.

Cycle. Cycle. Cycle.

That is what we witnessed in these five games. All Cycle no shoot.

It has been said so many times that it has become a cliché but you’re going to miss all the shots you don’t take; and if no one is there to knock in the rebound that Pekka Rinne gives up… guess what that is not going to go in either.

Bringing in new assistant coaching was suppose to bring in new ideas for the team. Becoming lackluster just is not going to win anything.

More should have been done at the trade deadline. Getting Kyle Quincey back was fantastic… if racking up penalty minutes was the objective.

Why is it the playoffs start and now the Red Wings can not keep themselves out of the penalty box? Stupid plays. Johan Franzen played stupid the entire series. Why are is he getting paid what he is? The excuse was for his playoff performance. Well holy crap ya’all that was horrible.

It is not a coincidence that the only game Detroit won was the one where they were heated. When they hated Nashville for Shea Weber‘s attack on Henrik Zetterberg. I am not going to go into that incident we all have beat that horse to death; but game two the Red Wings came out hungry and they won.

Remember when the Red Wings were the team to go to because they would rally for a player? When they played their hearts out to win that cup in 2008 for Dallas Drake before he retired.

They could not do that for Tomas Holmstrom and possibly Nicklas Lidstrom? Really? Drake meant more to them than these two that have spent their entire careers making the team what it is (or was) for these “youngsters”.

The team needs an update. Get rid of the stubron jackass we call the Mule, get a goal scorer. Honestly since losing Marian Hossa to the Blackhawks the Red Wings still have not found themselves a snipper. Players can cycle the puck all they want, but unless they shoot it they are not going to score.

Keep Darren Helm, Keep Patrick Eaves in your thoughts and hope he is okay for next season. Detroit missed both of them dearly in the playoffs.

Keep Nicklas Kronwall though odds are he is injured again as he did not “Kronwall” anyone this series (odds are it would have been a 4-5 game suspension anyway).

Keep Howard but find him a good partner. Not a back up but a good goaltending tandem where the goalies push one another; not where one self destructs.

Keep the Euro Twins. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg probably should have played on the same line together a little more when nothing was frickin’ working.

Keep Bertuzzi since he is the only one willing to use his size.

The Central Division is getting younger, full of players that are hungry to get their chance at the cup and to take down everyone that stands in their way.

Especially the old measuring stick Red Wings.

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Red Wings Eliminated with Loss to Predators

The Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night with a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.

The loss in Game Five of the first-round matchup between the teams is the earliest exit for the Red Wings since 2003, when they were swept in the opening round by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Nashville’s game-winning goal came just 13 seconds into the third period. The Red Wings won the period’s opening faceoff but Brad Stuart‘s attempted pass into the neutral zone became a turnover, with Alexander Radulov gaining the Detroit zone and working the puck to Gabriel Bourque. The Detroit defense collapsed on Bourque and blocked his attempted shot but the puck came right to the trailing David Legwand, who snapped a shot past Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to make it 2-1.

The Red Wings would be unable to even things up, barely sustaining any pressure in the Nashville zone for the remainder of the game.

The Predators had opened the game’s scoring with 3:50 left in the first period. Legwand picked off Kyle Quincey‘s attempted pass to Jonathan Ericsson along the boards behind the Detroit net and sent the puck out to Radulov all alone in front of the goal for a shot past Howard.

Jiri Hudler tied things back up with 6:15 left in the second period, poking the puck under Nashville netminder after Valtteri Filppula threw it to the net.

Rinne finished the night with 21 saves on 22 shots against. Howard made 23 saves on 25 shots.

Neither team scored a power play goal. The Red Wings had two tries with the extra attacker and the Predators had three.

The series was the first of the season to end.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Predators – Game 5 – 4/20

I’m not going to say I told you so, because the Red Wings losing their first round matchup with the Nashville Predators was pretty easy to see after Detroit dropped their two home games in the series earlier this week. Seeing that writing on the wall didn’t take much.

The Predators simply outworked the Red Wings for most of the series. I’d like to think of it as the Red Wings not doing enough (which is also true) but Nashville deserves credit, too. We’ll see if a Preds team that’s been built to beat Detroit can get past anyone else, but it’s not my job to worry about that.

For the Wings, the summer will be an interesting one. Mike Babcock‘s stubbornness will take some heat. Would the Wings have done better with Gustav Nyquist on a top line? Ken Holland will take some blame as well, as he failed to plug the holes in Detroit’s forward units at the trade deadline, even with as much salary cap space as the Red Wings have ever had to work with.

It’s pretty clear that something needs to be shaken up. Whether it’s a new Grind Line or a top-six forward, the Red Wings didn’t have what they needed this year and it’ll need to be addressed. We’ve got a long summer to worry about that.

Hockeytown Shifts Gears To Watch Worlds: Americans Discover Yearly Hockey Tournament

Five games into the post season (one game short of my playoff tickets) and the Detroit Red Wings have done the unthinkable.

Started their golf season early – just not as early as the Leafs, Blue Jackets, etc.

The Detroit Red Wings have become the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs; which means no more hockey for Detroit fans to enjoy (well other than if the Flyers beat the Penguins).

All of the Detroit stars and done, gone, no more hockey until the fall right. Well maybe, but adds are that is not true either.

You see there is this “little” known hockey tournaments every year (well not on Winter Olympic years) called the IIHF World Championship; and guess what. NHL players are allowed to play.

HOLY CRAP.

Now that the Red Wings have been eliminated early there is a chance that some of them will be asked to join their native country in the tournament that is taking place split between Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland.

Currently none of the Red Wings have agreed to join their teams; however, other than for injury reasons I am sure a few may. Especially the Swedes and the Finn.

Team Sweden has gained Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Fabian Brunnstrom and Tomas Holmstrom to their potential player pool. I know Nicklas Lidstrom is a Swede, he was captain for Tre Kronor in the Vancouver Olympics; but The Perfect Human is still injured and I do not see him joining the team.

Event co-host Finland now has Valtteri Filppula available. Last year Finland won gold without Filppula; however with Mikko Koivu‘s injury during the NHL regular season and the loss of goaltender Niklas Backstrom to surgery Filppula is probably already receiving calls.

Russia has been lackluster in the international tournaments as of late and could use the help of Pavel Datsyuk; however, injury may keep the Magician off the ice.

Justin Abdelkader, Chris Conner, Doug Janik, Drew Miller, Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin have become available for Team USA. With the horrible finish in last years tournament the USA needs a strong push this time around and hopefully Miller, Howard and Abdelkader can have a better ending to their season by helping out the national team.

Hockey Canada… Detroit gives to you Todd Bertuzzi, Danny Cleary, Riley Sheahan, Garnet Exelby, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Corey Emmerton, Brad Stuart, and Ian White… if you shall choose.

To the Czech Republic Jiri Hudler and Jakub Kindl would be good additions to your team.

Tomas Tatar has seen two season end thus far but could still be a big part for Slovakia.

And Slovenia The Red Wings have given you Jan Mursak.

Now Detroit fans and National Team fans sit and wait to see who will be joining as the Red Wings clear out their lockers and scatter for what is the longest off-season they have had since before winning the cup in 2008.

Red Wings Face Elimination After Game Four Loss to Predators

The Detroit Red Wings are one loss from elimination from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs after dropping Game Four of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the Nashville Predators, 3-1.

The Predators now lead the series 3-1 as it heads back to Nashville for Game Five.

The Red Wings dominated the scoreless first two periods of the game, carrying a 28-11 shooting advantage into the third. It would be Nashville, however, that opened the game’s scoring.

Just 1:55 into the period, Gabriel Bourque was left along in front of Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to take a feed from Alexander Radulov and snap a shot into the back of the net. The goal came shortly after the Predators thought they had made it 1-0 but an apparent goal was called off on an “intent to blow” play.

The Red Wings would even things up at 3:14. Niklas Kronwall‘s rocket from the blue line was tipped in front of the net by Jiri Hudler, with the deflection rising over Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne for a power play goal.

At 6:25, the Predators regained the lead when three Red Wings followed Martin Erat into the corner and Howard shifted right to track the play. This left Patrick Holmqvist and Kevin Klein wide open in front, and Erat fed Klein for an easy shot into the vacated net.

The Predators finished off the scoring with 39 seconds left in regulation. With Nashville on a power play, Danny Cleary attempted to carry the puck out from behind his own goal and start a rush. At the side of the crease, David Legwand poked the puck off his stick and it slipped through Howard, ending Detroit’s chance at a comeback.

Each team had a power play goal on the night, with the Red Wings having seven power plays to Nashville’s three.

Howard made 14 saves on 17 shots against while Rinne stopped 40 of 41 chances.

Game Five of the series will be on Friday.

Postgame: Predators @ Red Wings – Game 4 – 4/17

Ahh, where to begin after this one?

I’m not sure if we can call it the good, since it didn’t lead to anything, but we’ll start with the first two periods where the Red Wings were dominating the Predators. It was fantastic to see Detroit playing their game and felt like it was just a matter of time before they got a goal playing the way they were.

But at the same time, you kind of had the feeling they wouldn’t be able to keep it up. That either they’d make a mistake or Nashville would wake up. Or the calls that they were suddenly getting would stop coming.

Right off the bat, they needed one of those calls in the third. From the side of the net, the puck somehow trickles in off of Jimmy Howard. He really should have had it, I’m not even sure how it got through him right now, but the Wings actually benefit from an “intent to blow” play and the goal doesn’t count.

Rather than come out jumping after that bit of luck, the Wings were completely back on their heels, then they left Gabriel Bourque wide open in front of the net to take a feed that bounced off a skate on its way to him and put it past Howard.

The Red Wings finally converted on a power play to tie things up. We’re back to the good here, as it was a fantastic shot from the blue line by Niklas Kronwall nicely tipped in front by Jiri Hudler.

And just as quickly, we’re back to the awful. Nashville’s second goal was just a disgraceful effort by Detroit. Martin Erat takes the puck into the corner and three Red Wings follow him there, with Jimmy Howard also over-committing in that direction, leaving both Patrick Hornqvist and Kevin Klein wide open. Erat fed Klein for a shot into the open net.

Nashville’s third goal? Another WTF moment. Danny Cleary carries the puck up from behind the net but David Legwand pokes it away at the edge of the crease and it just goes through Howard, who never reacts to it. Cleary has to protect the puck there but Howard didn’t even look awake. Maybe he was thinking ahead to getting out of the net as Cleary cleared the zone. Whatever the reason, it was an awful mental mistake.

So now Detroit is a game from elimination, having lost both games at home after having the league’s best home record all year. I do think this team can come back and win this series but I don’t think they’re going to. The Predators have been too good and the Wings have been unable to sort out their own problems. That said, I thought that against San Jose last year and Detroit made a hell of a series out of it.

Another Season Cut Short

Last night the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) lost in a game 7 to the Kitchener Rangers eliminating them from the playoffs; and sending the Rangers to the Western Conference Finals.

The Whalers were a favorite for the OHL this season with a strong roster built out from the net with New Jersey Devils and Team Canada goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

With the possible retirement of their long time netminder Martain Brodeur in New Jersey it is possible that Wedgewood will shift in his development and could be in the AHL next season. Brodeur played his lost minutes in a playoff game every last night when he was pulled after giving up a 3-0 lead to the Florida Panthers.

It is also possible that with the rebuild in Carolina that the Whalers could lose defenseman Austin Levi; or JT Miller who sparked controversy after being drafted in the first round by the New York Rangers and heading to Juniors rather than the collegiate route. Miller whom others have said had a lack luster season had 62 points in 61 games played.

As the Whalers season has ended long before many had suspected is it a sign that hockey in the Detroit area is about to close a chapter as the Red Wings went down 3-1 in their first round series to the Nashville Predators.