All things considered, the Wings have managed the past few months with surprising success. There aren't a whole lot of teams who could watch their entire second line evaporate and still remain in contention for the division (only 4 pts back as of this morning, hallelujah!).
While we're certainly enjoying the moment here at TPL, there is still cause for concern as one of the primary "trouble areas" (and no ladies, we're not talking about your hips) coming into the season remains unresolved: Where will the scoring come from. With that in mind, we continue our series on "The Fix."
While the past few games indicate progress in our ability to find the twine, a look at the stats shows we're WELL off last year's goal scoring pace. At the end of the season, we were averaging 3.6 GF/game (with 2.98 against). This season we nearly an entire point off that mark, registering a measly 2.79.
Before we totally piss on the campfire, there are some bright spots this year. Pavel and Hank are still our #1 and 2 points guys. Bertuzzi...amazingly, has slid into Hossa's #3 spot, though the chances of him potting 40 by the end of the season are a little unrealistic (or are they?). There have also been some revelations. Homer, who ended last season as our #12 points man (though you have to cut him some slack for only playing 53 games) is now right behind Voldemort, and Buckets...despite the injury this year...is sitting at #5, up from a somewhat underachieving 9 slot at the close of '08 (regular season). *For a complete list, see bottom of the post.
After enjoying the Bertuzzi "Chuck Woolrey Special" (2 goals, 2 games...we'll be back with 2 in 2? ...anyone? ...moving along) this weekend, Michael and I started thinking about who would be the next talent to emerge this year as a go-to. Looking at last year's scoring charts brought some clarity, and it confirms what we already suspected - our blueliners need to step up in the scoring department...particularly Mr Norris.
Since the lockout, our animatronic defensemen has been in the top 3 or 4 points-getters on the team. This year? He's barely clearing the double digits at #9. In fact, whereas last year we had two blueliners in our top 5 (Nick and Raffy), 33 games into this year, we've got none...though Kronner, injury and all...is knocking on the door at #6.
With all the flash we've had in the past up front, I've always seen this team as one built around the defensemen. They're the ones leading the rush, controlling the tempo, making the PP hum. I'm hesitant to complain in the midst of a (much needed) 3 game streak, but to be a force in the playoffs and continue to gain in the division, I don't see how we go the distance without guys like Lidstrom lighting the lamp on a consistent basis.
Full List of Points-Getters, in Order of....Gettin?
2008-09: Pavel, Z, Shoulder, Norris, Raffy, Mulo, Scuttles, Kronner, Buckets, Sammy, Flip, Homer, Kopy (what?), Drapes, Domer
2009-10: Z, Pavel, Bertz, Homer, Newfie, Kronner, Drapes, Raffy, Norris, Rig, Eavesm Stu, Helm, Mr Vanilla, Flip