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Secondary scoring- is the problem Babcock?


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  First let me make it clear i feel that Mike Babcock is one  of the top coaches in the NHL today. Close to the top of a very short list.

  The Wings during his tenure have suffered terribly from lack of cohesion on anything past the top line scoring wise. Players have come and gone, the cast has changed but we still dont seem to be putting anything together after Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

  The culprits for years in the Wings fans eyes have been Franzen, Hudler and Filpulla, and even Mikael Samuelsson. All were derided for not contributing as they should leaving too much of a burden on the top line.

 Looking at the four of them, Franzen is still with the Wings, and is eroding but he was consistently inconsistent, scoring 25 goals a year, in streaks, not a player you can count on night in night out. The organization overvalued him and signed him to a ten year deal and watched him slow down.

 Samuelsson in his first run with the Wings averaged 17 goals a year playing sound on both ends of the ice but was considered frustrating by those who wanted more. He left and went to Vancouver as a free agent where in is first year there he scored 30 goals and 53 points, following that up with 50 points,both is career highs before inuries claimed his ability and he returned as an extra swede with the Wings.

  Happy Hudler drove us nuts, a little guy, bumped off the puck easily averaging 17 goals a year but very one dimensional. Now in Calgary, averaging more than a point a game and one of the leaders of a very young squad, a much more complete offensive and defensive player than he ever was in Detroit.

  And now Val Filpulla. val has been teasing the Wings for years, 14 goals a year, considered too soft, about twice a month he was another Pavel. Then he would turn back into a pumpkin. Now in Tampa, averaging just under a point a game with his highest shooting percentage ever he looks like the steal of the summer after Tampa was derided for letting vinnie go and replacing him a troughly the same cap hit with Val. He has been moved seemlessly into the second line center role and is excelling.

   So all three, Samuelsson, Filpulla and Happy Hudler have proven that life outside of Detroit they can put up much better numbers and get their career on track.

  We have replaced them with:


Stephen Weiss who through the first 15 games has exactly 2 points. He is recovering from an injury that forced him to miss most of last season, to his credit he is not using it as an alibi. He is playing a solid 200 foot game but 2 points in 15 games? C'mon.

  A 40 year old Daniel Alfredsson who in spite of his age has been nothing short of remarkable. He has emerged as a leader of a veteran squad who seem to rally around him. Henrik Zetterberg seems renewed playing with his childhood idol. But the fact is, he is one and done, he says this is it no matter what.

  Why do so many players leave Detroit and see their careers come together? Why are so many of our 'perenial dissapointments' solid vets elsewhere? One other, whipping boy Dan Cleary, i am convinced he would have been a hero in Philadelphia instead of derided in Detroit.

  Quite frankly, as much as i love Babs, i gotta put a lot of the blame for this upon his shoulders.

  He rides his stars too hard, tries to play the matchups to perfection with his top line and that leaves his secondary scorers pitted against other clubs top defenders. Rather than go head to head, top line against top line, he plays for the most favorable matchups for his top line and expects his second and third liners to play more defense against the other clubs top lines. He is not alone in this, hell a lot of clubs do this, he just seems to be a matchup master.

  So we get 100 points a year year in and out, make the playoffs 22 straight years with everything looking rosy for year 23, is it anything to complain about?

  My opinion is yes. By not allowing the second line to gel the Wings become a one trick pony which does not play well in the post season. Once the second season starts you need all four lines playing at maximum capabilities and when you have been reliant upon only one line all season it is hard to go far in the playoffs.

  We need to get our second line established, Weiss, Alfredsson and Franzen would be fine with me, and give them minutes where they have more of an oppurtunity to score instead of relying on them in a shut down role. All can play, let them and we will be a much more dangerous team. Look at the last three games, all wins, we have seen nifty goals and play by Andersson an dTatar on the third line, we have seen Bert score on the top line but NOTHING out of Weiss and whoever he is paired with. Babs is taking advantage of his selflessness and his solid 200 foot game and not giving him the oppurtunity to score. We will need Weiss to get it together. Hudler and Val have moved on and are bigger and better elsewhere, we need someone to step up in the second line role. Babs is holding them back as he held back Filpulla and Hudler, it needs to end if we are to go far.

Edited by yave1964
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I share your concern with Babcock, but in a different but related way, and I have said it before. I do not believe that Babcock uses negative reinforcement enough in his coaching. Now, I will say that he has done a bit more of it this year and last year, but last year was because of injuries, not so much sanctions. This year, for example, he sat Bendan Smith, and for good reason. And when he came back he has been better than he was before he sat. Still not as good as he needs to be, though. Franzen should be sat a game to get a point across. Or put him on the 4th line if you're not gonna sit him, but limit ice time to say, "Hey Mr. Getting-Paid-Big-Bucks, I won't like sitting you when you make as much as you do, but if you aren't gonna play, Gus is in GR chomping at the bit to get back up here, and if you're playing like you are, you're just in his way! So let's see if 7-8minutes of ice time per game gets the point across for ya, eh?"

My biggest complaint with him is that he SAYS he's all about winning. I'm not so sure sometimes. Sometimes I think he's all about winning using the guys that normally play.

But after saying all that, I agree that there's not really a better coach who would be available if you fired him, and I don't think he needs to be fired yet.

The addition of Helm, and that nice breakaway goal he got his first game back--OK, it was kind of a gift, but did you see him leave everyone else behind? Not too many others on our team who can do that. Helm's return should make it easier to move Mule down. Only thing is, Mule will look even slower skating with Helm, and might drag him down.

Either way, the lack of negative consequences apparent from outside the dressing room is the biggest difference between him and Bowman, IMHO. In his defense, though, Bowman coached some pretty talented teams, and I question whether he would do as well as he did previously in today's league of parity.

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