If you saw the jersey retirement ceremony for Nick Lidstrom a couple weeks ago, maybe you were as struck as I was by a sobering visual.
Two of the Red Wings’ big guns, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, presented Lidstrom with Nick’s official gift from the team—an African Safari.
Both were in street clothes. And Zetterberg, with his bad back, looked like he was a hundred years old, the way he was moving about.
That visual of Z and Pavs presenting Lidstrom with his gift spoke volumes.
Here were the stars of the present, hobbled and wearing Armani instead of Koho, commiserating with an icon of glory days past.
That moment pretty much tells the story of the state of the Red Wings today.
Another reminder occurred in Chicago last night.
The Red Wings, decimated by injuries and playing with a roster liberally dotted with Grand Rapids Griffins and Red Wings of the future, gave the Blackhawks a game for 40 minutes. The Red Wings, outgunned, outshot and outplayed, nonetheless were trailing by a single goal, 2-1.
Then Marian Hossa struck about eight minutes into the third period, using speed and skill to score an insurance goal. The Blackhawks added a shorthanded tally with a few minutes left. Final score: Chicago 4, Detroit 1.
The Red Wings simply can’t match the skill of many NHL teams right now. Their wobbly playoff hopes are based on hard work, luck and winning games 2-1 or even 1-0.
The future is bright, as written on this blog before. But the present’s reality was underscored by what happened in Chicago on Sunday night.
The Red Wings can’t rely on skill right now. Their post-season hopes ride on the age-old playoff mentality of taking each game one shift at a time. They will have to score power play goals at a brisk rate. The penalty kill will have to be drum tight.
There isn’t much of a margin for error for the goaltending, as if you needed reminding.
The Red Wings are just three points out of the playoffs but it sometimes feels like 10. It’s so difficult for them now.
Sadly, I believe the nights they will be outclassed will override the nights they manage a point or two. The 22-year playoff streak will come to an end. My opinion.