Despite picking up a point in last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues, Wings fans are in full-on panic mode. The Wings are 4-6-5 in their last 15 games, leading The Triple Deke to believe that they have hit rock bottom. I didn't really give much thought to the Wings' latest effort (or lack of) until I saw this tweet from @mserven.
2 crap efforts following 2 days off between both crap efforts. I think Babcock has lost the team. #redwings
Over the previously mentioned 15-game stretch, the Wings have held opponents to fewer than 30 shots only three times. To put that in perspective, they gave up more than 30 shots seven times over the entire 2008 regular season. The defensive effort is lacking, and you're a moron if you say otherwise.
So is the problem simply effort? I don't think so. And no, I'm not playing the "injury" card or crying conspiracy. I think the problem is bigger than just Mike Babcock, or even the team as a whole. I think the giant tournament looming ahead is what's causing this team problems. Take a look at the number of Wings involved in this year's Olympics. Seven of the team's top players, most of whom are coming off of injuries as well (ok, so I played it) are going to Vancouver.
Still, other teams have players in the Olympics as well. The big difference? Mike Babcock is coach of Team Canada. I love Babs, but he's no Superman. He's been hearing about this two-week stretch from every Canadian man, woman, she-man, and baby he's talked to the entire season, but the anticipation has to be ramping up as the games get closer. I think he's let his focus from the Wings slip a bit, and the product on the ice has suffered because of it. Do I blame him? No. There's no way Babcock will be fired after the ridiculous success he's maintained here in Detroit. If I had the chance to be a national hero I'd take it too, even if my performance at work suffered. Hell, my performance at work suffers enough by writing this post, so it's even more amazing that Babs has kept this team afloat with the weight of Canada sitting on his shoulders.
Call me an optimist, but I don't think Babs has lost the team. He may have already lost certain players, but I think the vast majority of guys on this team still respect Babcock. Getting past the Olympic break will be a big weight off of everyone's shoulders, but no person more so than Coach Babcock. Will this team come out with guns blazing after the break? Nobody knows. But they proved last year that there truly is an on/off switch in Hockeytown, and the Wings know where it is. [image via A2Y]
So D4L faithful, has Mike Babcock lost this team? If he's not in Detroit next year, who's your ideal next coach? Voice your vote in the comments.