Red Wings Renew Rivalry With Blackhawks


With the 2-0 loss to the Habs, the Red Wings have now lost their third straight game and dropped them six points behind Montreal in the Atlantic. Time to panic? No. But with the a trip to the United Center to play the Blackhawks, there needs to be a sense of urgency on top of continuing one of the best modern-day rivalries in hockey.

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Which Red Wings forward comes out once Patrick Kane enters the fray?
Which Red Wings forward comes out once Patrick Kane enters the fray? /

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  • There are a few things that Babcock and his crew need to remedy in order to keep pace in the division.

    Bad Penalties

    It really began to rear its ugly head during the Avalanche tilt Feb.5. Most notably Brendan Smith getting booked for an incredibly blatant hook after giving up the puck at center ice, there was no danger of an odd man rush or danger of a breakaway. At times as the defense seems to try to do too much when the game is close when in fact their overachieving has resulted in dangerous turnovers that don’t need to happen. That brings me to my next point.

    Control The Puck

    There are an unnecessary amount of turnovers in the neutral zone that is not characteristic of Babcock led teams. Slow decision-making and sloppy passes have created a lot of odd man rushes that tested Petr Mrazek, who was more than up to the task. But that is besides the point.You can not expect to be bailed out by Howard every time there is a three-on-two or two-on-one. With Jimmy just getting back into the lineup, it could be a disaster.

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    The Howard Conundrum

    Yes he is just returning to the lineup. Yes he is the main guy between the pipes. But with a playoff and divisional push coming sooner rather than later, the question marks surrounding his consistency will once again be the concern. At 16-8-8 and a .921 save percentage Howie isn’t what you could say questionable in skill. But it is the other smaller details that leave supporters worried and critics shaking their “I told you so” heads. Jimmy stopped 27 of 28 shots in what was a very solid performance, but the time he let the game winner slip by and the manner of how is what worries fans. Toss that in with his questionable puck playing behind the net at times and that could be the difference between a division title or a quick exit in the playoffs.

    This is as big of a statement game as there is this year for the Wings. If they can win the one and only time that they play the Blackhawks it will be a huge step in legitimizing their stance in the East and in the league overall. As the first of six straight games away from the Joe, this is a must win game.

    There will be a few Wings to watch that will decide how this pivotal ends.

    Pavel Datsyuk

    First being No. 13.  This is a game where they need to lean on Pavel Datsyuk. He will be the focus of the Blackhawks, but its those game plans that he thrives against. Shots won’t be at a premium in this game as both blueliner corps will be tested with the likes of Kane, Toews, Zetterburg, and Datsyuk flying around.

    He is on pace to have the most points in a season since the 2009-2010 season in which he tallied 70 points. With Datsyuk producing at a youthful level at age 36 , Babcock should be ready to give him the puck in scoring situations.

    Time going forward will take its toll so a good season by Pavel absolutely should not be wasted, this is a big game plain and simple. He is the most dangerous weapon for the Red Wings in any game and he needs to be used as such.

    Jonathan Ericsson

    He is continuing his run of good form from last season. He wont be relied on for scoring, but he will be one that will dictate the pace of the game in the early stages. He did exactly that in the first 40 seconds of the last game against the Avalanche and it set the tone.

    That is a burgeoning reincarnation of old times. But Chicago is here and now. Don’t expect Ericsson to go dropping gloves just after the first face off, but do not be surprised to see him fraying some nerves that will lead to opportunities on the power play. With the top power play unit in the league up to this point, it will ultimately be the difference.

    Bottom Line: Wings win 3-2