By: Eric Thomas
Some honesty off the jump. If you want to blame Jimmy Howard, you can. Should you put a goalie on a rail for one bad night in the playoffs? No. If you need to pull a blame target out and put it on him, he did nothing to wave that away. When the winning goal was scored in game 4 of the playoffs, he was to the right of the net. There is no excuse for that. You can’t be considered an All Star goalie and be missing. Simple.
But to say that Jimmy Howard lost the game would be ridiculous and evidence of blindness. The problem with this team is the same as it has been for about a month now. They Red Wings cannot score. What’s worse is that they can’t score on the power play. This has been a problem since early March.
It’s not like the refs didn’t give the Wings enough chances. If the Red Wings were good at scoring off the power play, they might have scored 10. In the 2nd period the Red Wings outshot the Preds 16-2. Some of that is due to Pekka Rinne, but this has been going on for some time now.
It started in March not long after the skates were cooling from the 23 game home winning streak. The Red Wings started getting injured and they couldn’t seem to get the puck in the net. Most people pointed their fingers at the injury sheet which looked like a character list from the Simpsons. Turns out that didn’t matter much. People still point to Helm’s injury in the first game but he is one player.
The bottom line: the Wings might be finally too old. If (looks more like when) the Wings are bounced in the first round this will inspire a great deal of navel gazing among the Red Wings proletariat. They enter the offseason early by their standards again and they have a vault of unspent cap room. Tough decisions are going to have to be made. Tense conversations need to be had. Ken Holland might have to introduce the new look Red Wings or watch them tread water for another season.
Making excuses for individual players or shaking your fist at the God of puck luck will do you no favors and win you no games. If you think that the Wings are losing because an absence of luck you haven’t been paying rapt attention for the last third of the season. This has been a pretty consistent result.
Again, I hate making this point over and over again but you have to score. You don’t have Dominator in net that will win with one goal. It’s not fair to expect Howard to be that guy when you have one of the most talented rosters in the game. You have to score points in order to win the game.
Everything else you hear is hollow excuses that echo uselessly. Jimmy Howard did not lose that game. You can blame it on every single helmet in the locker room. When the season is over and blame is placed, you can save some for Ken Holland who shrugged at the trade deadline. The team was not as good as he (or we) thought it was.
Hopefully this latest embarrassing playoff exit will be the catalyst the Wings so apparently need.