There’s No Place Like Home

It was only a matter of time before Judy got a stick tap here. Jeff compares the Red Wings win streak at home with thier spotty road play; looks ahead to their Friday and Saturday games, then doubles down on the gay with an update on how Glee episodes impacts team performance.

“The Detroit Red Wings must feel a little bit like Dorothy these days with their less than stellar road record. Right before my post ahead of Thanksgiving, Coach Babcock gave the team, and the press, an earful about the team’s lackluster play during a west coast tour.  That talk pulled the team out of a rut, but there’s still a lot to be desired about the team’s road play, just look at the 1-2 record they had recently in Canada.

Sixteen games were played since my last article and 11 were away games with five of those ending up as losses. The six home games, on the other hand were all wins. With Tuesday night’s win over St. Louis, the Red Wings have won 11 straight at The Joe.

Now a 6-5 road record is far from the worst thing you can have, but the boys in red are definitely having road troubles and it only gets more difficult the longer they are away from home base.

Looking across the games played since they were in Boston the day after Thanksgiving, the trend has been to win the first game away and then lose the others. 

December 2 was a win in Buffalo followed by a December 4 loss in Colorado and a December 6 loss in St. Louis. Jump to December 13 and a win at Pittsburgh followed by a loss in Nashville on the 15th, a win in LA on the 17th, a win in Edmonton on the 19th, and then losses during the rest of the Canadian tour going down on the 21st to Vancouver and the 22nd to Calgary.

Babcock and the guys know they’ve got to get better on the road. Following the Calgary game, the coach had this to say: “I don’t think we skated very good on the road trip. I didn’t expect us to skate good in the first 10 minutes, but I thought we’d dig in and really fight and play hard, but the decision to play didn’t happen until the third and we got to be disappointed with our effort, for sure.”

I’m stunned by the admission he didn’t expect good skating for a sixth of the game. Sure traveling is hard, but you’ve got to have the stamina and wherewithal to get past that and deliver the best game possible time after time. It’s one thing for a team to lose while giving its best… it hurts, but collectively everyone can hold their head up high and be proud for what they tried to do. It’s another to lose because the collective didn’t decide to kick in to gear until two-thirds of the contest was over. That’s disappointing for everyone.

Two to Close Out 2011 

Sure, a lot of people are getting amped up for the Winter Classic on the 2nd. But, since I’m kind of meh on both the Rangers and the Flyers, I’m much more interested in the two Red Wings games that close out this year. These are key games as the team takes on tough division rivals with Chicago and, yes, twice in the same week, St. Louis. Following Tuesday’s games, Chicago leads the West with Detroit three points behind in fourth pace. Following the Tuesday loss, St. Louis sits one point behind in fifth place.

Kornwall hockey hugged goal against St. Louis on Tuesday

Technically, Friday’s Chicago game is away, but since it’s practically in the Red Wings backyard, and they’ll have had two days off, I’m expecting this to be a fiery game without any Red Wing road woes.

Curiously, the Hawks lost to L.A. on Wednesday. That 2-0 victory snapped L.A.’s seven game losing streak and was the first time during December that Chicago lost in regulation at home. The Hawks aren’t going to want consecutive home losses. This is going to be a close one, and it’s all going to come down to the goaltenders.

Jimmy Howard is having a spectacular season with a league leading 22 wins so far (it continues to be curious how the winningest goalie in the league this season wasn’t on the All Star ballot!).

If he’s in net Friday, this game is Detroit’s, provided they keep up the energy, make use of power plays and don’t give anything away.

For New Year’s Eve, St. Louis comes back to The Joe looking for redemption from Tuesday’s loss. St. Louis had Detroit’s number for two periods on Tuesday before they slipped and let Detroit come in to do their thing.

Babcock and the boys need to study that video to make sure the can come out and dominate so there’ll be two reasons to have a champagne toast Saturday night.

This game is also going to be very close.  Honestly I’m less confident here than I am about getting the win in Chicago. Yes, the Wings will be home, but St. Louis has been outstanding this season. This is going to be a game of mistakes–the team that makes fewer wins. Here’s hoping it’s Detroit

Update on the Glee Factor

There were two Tuesday games in December that aligned with new Glee episodes along with one repeat. As with the previous analysis, weak Gleeseems to spell doom for Detroit.  On December 6, Detroit was at St. Louis and lost 3-2. That night Glee aired “Hold on to Sixteen,” which was its annual sectionals episode. The parts of the episode that centered on the competition was good, as we’re the songs. The rest of the episode though was only so-so and the Wings couldn’t pull out the win.

The story was better a week later as Glee aired its Christmas episode, titled “Extraordinary Merry Christmas.”

The episode lived up to its name while the Red Wings handed Pittsburgh a 4-1 loss, making it the first time Detroit has won in Pittsburgh since the 2008-09 season.  Good reruns also seem to mean good things for the Wings. On December 27, Glee aired the excellent “Grilled Cheeseus” episode from last season and the Red Wings won at home against St. Louis.

Glee is back with new episodes starting January 17 and that night the Wings play in Dallas so we’ll see how the show and the team fare then. Depending on scheduling, there are up to four games that will get matched with episodes through February so this theory will get tested often.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s Go Red Wings!”

You can gleefully follow Jeff on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc

About Craig

Proudly serving gay hockey fans and players since 2010
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