Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Keith Gave's Northern Sports Desk

 

CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY FACE-OFF PODCASTS

 

 

January 9th, 2018

 

The envelope please: Here’s five can’t-miss

predictions for Red Wings in the second half

 

By KEITH GAVE

Sports Director

 

Ask most Red Wings fans before the season began how they would feel if their team was within five points of Chicago in the overall standings – and just six behind two-time defending champion Pittsburgh – at the halfway mark of the season, and most would admit to feeling pretty good about their team’s chances.

 

Then mention that at the same point in the standings, they’d be 19 points behind the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, and those same fans might well choke on their pizza.

 

But that’s exactly where the Wings stand after 41 of the 82 games of the inaugural season at Little Caesars Arena: Mired in mediocrity at 17-17-7, for 41 points. Which after last season’s profoundly disappointing finish is actually a step up – albeit a very small one. After 41 games last season, they were 17-18-6, for 40 points.

 

But a one-point improvement is a lot better than what’s happening with some other of Detroit’s longstanding rivals. Consider Chicago; Like Detroit, if the Stanley Cup playoffs began after 41 games, the Blackhawks would be among the playoff wallflowers. And the Penguins needed an overtime victory Sunday for the point that enabled them to claim the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Their hold on it is tenuous at best.

 

Conversely, in easily the best storyline of the 2017-18 season, Vegas ranks second overall among the 31 NHL teams with 60 points, just three behind league-leading Tampa Bay, which has a game in hand. In other words, at the halfway point of the season, the Golden Knights are a virtual lock to make the playoffs in their maiden season.

 

That’s one prediction for the second half that I offer with some confidence. Here are a few more:

 

Andreas Athanasiou will continue to drive his coaches and teammates batty.

            For sure, all those breakaways with that lightning speed can electrify the crowd and change a game. But at what cost? Athanasiou’s ice time has been an issue since the Wings brought him up from Grand Rapids a few years ago.

Ice time is earned on the basis of talent and trust. And just when he established himself as someone who should rank among the team leaders in ice time, with linemate Dylan Larkin, he pulls something like he did Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The Wings were trailing 1-0 and battling for the puck along the sideboards in their own zone. Confident that his teammates would win possession, he turned up ice. They didn’t, and he was at the blue line when Tyler Johnson – Athanasiou’s responsibility – skated to the left corner of the crease for a shot that beat Petr Mrazek. That gave the best team in the NHL a 2-0 lead that felt insurmountable, even with more than 45 minutes left to play. It was.

“Double A” is a fan favorite, to be sure, but only because many fans simply miss that kind of irresponsible play that irks coaches and teammates who understand that there simply is no margin for gross errors like that.

 

Gus Nyquist will finally actually earn that big paycheck.

            The 28-year-old Swedish winger is on the third year of a four-year deal that pays him $4.75 million a season, which makes him one of the most overpaid players in the game. In the first year of that deal, Nyquist produced just 17 goals, 10 fewer than his previous two seasons, among 43 points. Last season, he had just 12 goals among 48 points.

After 41 games this season, he already has 14 goals, though he has assisted on just eight others. For the size of his paycheck, Nyquist should be pushing 30 goals and 60 points, like he did in his first full NHL season, 2014-15, when he had 27-27—54.

 

The Wings will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

That’s something they haven’t done since 1983 when they drafted Steve Yzerman with the fourth overall pick. It’s taken a 7-5-2 run (which followed a seven-game winless streak) to pull the Wings within shouting distance of a playoff berth. That may provide the carrot needed to get them through another 41 games that will start feeling like Groundhog Day by the end of the month.

Seriously, if it takes 95 points to make the playoffs – like it did last season – the Wings will have to play 13 games over .500 the rest of the way, say 24-11-6.

Ain’t gonna happen, folks.

And that’s not the worst thing that could happen to them, especially if wind up near the bottom again and have an opportunity to draft one of the most dynamic young defensemen in recent history. The lower Detroit finishes in the standings, the better their odds to win the lottery for the first choice.

So less is more if you get my drift.

 

Detroit will be a seller at the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline.

            Mike Green is the Red Wings’ version of the Tigers’ J.D. Martinez: A lock to be traded for precisely the same reasons: He makes a lot of money, he’ll an unrestricted free-agent at season’s end, and he’ll command more than the Wings are willing to pay – even though, at 33 when the next season begins, he still has a lot of good hockey left.

            Also, he’s precisely the kind of defenseman that teams who believe they have a serious shot at winning it all in June covet. He can play a regular shift in any situation – and his righthand shot from the blue line can make a good power play great. Best of all, for the Wings, Green will bring the Wings a nice return in the trade market. Certainly, more than the Tigers got for Martinez.

            Goaltender Petr Mrazek, considering how poorly he’s playing in the little opportunity he’s had this season, will fetch next to nothing. The Wings couldn’t give him away last season, and his stock continues to decline.

One intriguing name starting to surface in rumors: Athanasiou. Why? For some of the reasons noted earlier. Also, he didn’t endear himself to the Wings’ brass and ownership when he went to Europe in a contract dispute to start the season.

 

 

The seat under coach Jeff Blashill – and GM Ken Holland, too – will stay warm.

            Deserved? Debatable in either case. Just when it looked like he’d lost his team, Blashill has gotten the Wings to play some of their best hockey in a couple of seasons. But this team reeks of inconsistency, and another drought approaching that 0-10-1 streak of a month or so ago will have the wolves howling for his job again.

            Truth is, though, Blashill has been asked to make chicken soup of chicken droppings with this team, which has featured erratic goaltending, one of the weakest defense corps in the NHL and a group of largely overpaid, underperforming forwards.

            And that is on Holland, who after 20 years at the helm is on the last year of his contract. However, his future is determined will tell us a lot about Chris Ilitch’s stewardship of this franchise. If Holland is kept on and continues to resist the same kind of necessary ground-up rebuild that the Tigers are undergoing, it could be that many more years before the Wings rise to prominence again.

 

-30-

 

 

  --- ARCHIVES ---
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

-  June 27th,2017, Red Wings draft strategy baffling; Pistons fill big need with Kennard

 

-  June 23rd, 2017, Holland, Wings are big losers after this week’s Vegas expansion draft

 

-  June 20th, 2017, Ch-Ch-Changes are coming, and the Tigers are not alone

 

-  June 12th, 2017: When the Red Wings finally brought home Stanley Cup

 

-  JUNE 6TH, 2017: Tigers begin June surge while other Detroit clubs prepare to make news, too 

 

-  May 30, 2017: Tigers hitting critical stretch drive early this season: Win now or else

 

-  May 24, 2017: Now we know what's ailing the Tigers, and it ain't pitching

 

-  May 19, 2017: MAILBAG; You've got Questions, We've got Answers ... 

 

-  May 16, 2017: The Masters of Relief Pitching Endure ... 

 

-  May 8, 2017:  Tigers' GM Al Avila Faces Huge Crisis ...

 

-  May 5, 2017:  Red Wings Amongst the Losers in the NHL Draft ... 

 

-   May 3, 2017: Lions Tap into more character with first-round pick Davis 

 

-  April 27, 2017: Can "Santa" Quinn deliver again as Lions Head to Draft.....

 

-  April 24, 2017:  In a Moment of Inspiration When The Tigers Need it Most ... 

 

-  April 21, 2017: Hall of Fame needs to recognize one more...

 

-  April 17, 2017:  No Yzerman or Gallant to Rescue Wings...

 

-  April 13, 2017:  As The Joe is Set to Become a Pile of Dust ... 

 

-  April 10, 2017:  A Voice That Refuses to be Stifled Can Use Our Help in Epic Battle ...  

 

-  April 3, 2017: All the Experts are Wrong; Tigers will be good this year ...

 

-  March 31, 2017: Red Wings 25 Year Playoff Streak Something To Behold....

 

-  March 28, 2017:  While Pistons waive the white towel, Red Wings Show Self Pride...

 

-  March 23, 2017:  Red Wings Expected to Fire Blashill ... 

 

-  March 21, 2017: (Article Untitled)

 

-  March 17, 2017: Our Cups Runneth over with Memories of The Joe...

 

-  March 13, 2017:  Enjoy Wolverines Fairy-Tale ...

 

-  March 6, 2017:  As Big Ten Tournament Begins...

 

-  March 4, 2017:  Tigers to Scatter as Spring Training is Interrupted...

 

-  March 2, 2017:  Wings rebuild under way after stockpiling 5 Draft picks ...

 

-  February 24, 2017:  Pistons Follow Tigers' Lead and Stand a Pat at Trade Deadline; Red Wings Next...

 

-  February 22, 2017:   Inspired by Late Owner, can Wings and Tigers Deliver a Memorable Ending...

 

-  February 17, 2017:  ... Highlight Uncertainty of NHL Draft.

 

-  February 13, 2017:  "Pizza Guy" Mike Ilitch, Always Kept Fan Happy ...

 

-  February 11, 2017:  Tigers Pitchers Set to Head to Lakeland for Spring Training ... 

 

-  February 7, 2017:  Good Teams Make Own Breaks, but Patriots got Two Stunners...

 

-  February 3, 2017:  Super Bowl Pools ...

 

-  February 1, 2017:  Mr. Holland's Opus with Three Goalies...

 

-  January 26, 2017:  Red Wings are not alone amongst once great teams at the bottom ... 

 

-  January 24, 2017:  Life is a bowl of bubbles for local sports fans ...

 

-  January 23, 2017:  Wings GM Holland still has a few options...

 

-  January 17, 2017:  Tigers Slumber through the offseason; Is long expected change still coming?... 

 

-  January 13, 2017:  For Red Wings Fans its time to learn how the NHL Draft Lottery works ... 

 

-  January 6, 2017:  Lions Kicking Out Some Deafening Jams Preparing to Invade Seattle ... 

 

-  January 3, 2017:  It's January and there is still football in the "D" ...

 

-  December 31, 2016:  Lions must prove themselves against the Packers ...

 

-  December 29, 2016: All is right as Wings Honor 1997 Red Wings

 

-  December 23, 2016:  Lions vs. Cowboys, a precursor to things to come?

 

-  December 20, 2016: Lions still control their fate ...

 

-  December 19, 2016: Weather Injuries Threaten Lions' threaten run of wins....

 

-  December 14, 2016:  Nothing is certain yet, but Lions are 1 and 0 in most important ... 

 

-  December 9, 2016: WARNING! Anything goes in Lions-Bears Rivalry

 

-  December 5, 2016:  Detroit Lios Didn't Quite Punch Their Playoff Ticket 

 

-  December 3, 2016:  Lions Might be in Drivers Seat but ... 

 

-  December 2, 2016:  Hockey's New Fixation with Numbers in Inexplicable Casualties ... 

 

-  November 28, 2016: Michigan-Ohio State: Preemininent Rivalry ... 

 

-  November 22, 2016: Downtown Detroit wins big as Pistons Announce Homecoming...

 

-  November 18, 2016:  A Model Argument:  Verlander got Robbed...

 

-  November 14, 2016:  Lions and Red Wings Toy with Expectations ... 

 

-  November 11,  2016:  Howard's Brilliance, Mrazek flops ...

 

-  November 7, 2016: Stafford, Prater, keeping us tuned into the Lions ...

 

-  November 4, 2016:  Cubs Indians Game 7...

 

-  November 2, 2016: Red Wings Know What Needs Fixing ... 

 

-  October 28, 2016: Players Answered Houghton Lake for the second shot at Roscommon in Playoffs...

 

-  October 21, 2016:  Close Cousins: Skins QB vs Stafford ... 

 

-  October 13, 2016: History Shows not give up on Red Wings Playoff hopes ... 

 

-  October 11, 2016:  Happy Thanksgiving Canada! ... 

 

-  October 7, 2016:  For Detroit Sports Fans, Hope is a Muscle as their teams grapple with issues ... 

 

-  October 3, 2016:  Baseball, football seasons effectively over within hours in Detroit ... 

 

-  September 29, 2016:  Former Spartan Hoyer Eyes Reunion with the Lions ...

 

-  September 27, 2016: Party at Comerica, Tigers not Invited....

 

-  September 23, 2016:  Red Wings Head to Camp With More Questions Than Answers...

 

-  September 19, 2016:  Same Old Lions? Not Quite....

 

-  September 12, 2016:  September's Shameful Surrender...

 

-  September 9, 2016: Who knows what to expect from this Lions' season ... 

 

-  September 7, 2016:  Lions and Tigers and Playoff OH MY ...

 

-  September 1, 2016:  Jonesin' for a special moment in a very long season ... 

 

-  August 29, 2016:  Good Sports: When the Dog Days of our Lives have a golden hue...

 

-  August 25, 2016: Tigers maddening, wonderful ride to continue through the week ... 

 

-  August 23, 2016:  Ugly Americans Steal Feelgood headlines from worthy Olympians...

 

-  August 17, 2016:  Dombrowski gone but not forgotten ... 

 

 

Mobile App
Chemical Bank Creating Community Chemistry Calendar
Polls
What is your favorite Tom Petty song?
Add a Comment
(Fields are Optional)
Name:
Email:
Your email address is never published.
View Results
LinkedUpRadio Envisionwise Web Services