With Petr Mrazek The Reward Has Been Outweighing The Risk

Dimitri Filipovic
January 18 2016 10:02AM

Coming into the season, the Detroit Red Wings were one of just a handful of teams in the league not to have a clear-cut number one starter locked in for the lion's share of the workload in net. That's not to say that it was necessarily a bad plan by any means, given what we know about how much more efficient rested goaltenders are than their tired counterparts. 

If anything I suspect there's too much stock put into the importance of maintaining the conventional dynamic of having a workhorse starter and his prototypical backup that's only around to spell him on occasion. With how much the position has evolved and the talent pool deepened, there's no excuse for a team not to have two equally reliable options it can alternate to ensure peak performance during the marathon that is an 82-game season. The benefits of having that depth and versatility far exceeds any awkwardness that may arise from the uncertainty of not knowing whose turn it is. It's a good problem to have. 

Which made the Red Wings preseason plan perfectly reasonable, considering they happened to be blessed with two very functional candidates to start on any given night. Even though the writing may have ultimately been on the wall all along given the organization's decision to roll with Mrazek in the playoffs last spring, they still seemed determined to at least give the timeshare experiment a chance by having Mrazek and Howard each start 6 of the team's first 12 games. 

The idea was commendable in principle, though it didn't wind up lasting very long in practice. 

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Justin Abdelkader's Gratuitous Extension

Dimitri Filipovic
November 12 2015 08:30AM

Twitter went ablaze on Wednesday evening when The Hockey Godfather let it be known that the Detroit Red Wings were close to locking UFA-to-be Justin Abdelkader up to a long-term deal. This wasn't necessary a new revelation given that we've been hearing inklings about a potential extension for a while now, but the details themselves are so grotesque that the news produced a double take anyways.

Any way you slice it, there doesn't really appear to be an uplifting angle for the Red Wings and their fans here, especially with it coming off of the heels of a summer in which teams generally seemed to have smartened up with regards to these sorts of transactions. I'm not sure if it was pride or admiration, but whatever it is, I felt it after nary a team backed up the Brinks truck for one-year wonder Matt Beleskey to the degree I suspected they might.

I don't think that the Red Wings should get off scot-free here just because of the mystique they've generated as an organization with their sustained success in the past. This won't end well for them.

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The Renaissance of the Washington Capitals

Dimitri Filipovic
November 10 2015 11:47AM

For a while there, the Washington Capitals were the NHL’s preeminent cautionary tale for how quickly the outlook and fortunes of a team can change. They were the living embodiment of the dangers of succumbing to the human impulse for overreacting to the variance rooted in small sample sizes.

As quickly as they had built up the offensive juggernaut that was tearing through the league during the regular season from 2008 to 2011, they tore it all down following one too many premature playoff exits. In a misguided effort to bolster their chances come the postseason they turned their back on their greatest attributes - a high-octane group oozing with skill - and opted for a more conservative, defensive-minded approach.

While the initial returns were seemingly promising given that they came within just one game of their first Conference Final appearance since ‘98 under Dale Hunter, they eventually fell flat on their collective faces once the underlying issues that had been accumulating manifested themselves.

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The Oilers in the Wake of McDavid's Injury

Dimitri Filipovic
November 05 2015 11:45AM

What happened to Connor McDavid in Tuesday night's game against the Flyers was a real punch to the gut. And that's coming from someone who has doesn't have anything resembling any ties or allegiances to the Edmonton Oilers franchise. Purely as a fan of hockey, it's nothing short of regrettable that we're going to be deprived of seeing and enjoying someone who has instantly become one of the most fun players in the league to watch for at least a couple of months. 

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Brent Burns: Offensive Defenceman

Dimitri Filipovic
November 04 2015 10:42AM

There has been quite a bit of deliberation amongst the hockey community over the past few years as to whether the likes of Brent Burns and Dustin Byfuglien are better suited up front as forwards or on the blueline as defencemen. The fact that there’s even a worthwhile discussion to be had is a testament to how freakishly gifted and unique those two players are, that they can be effective in both circumstances. 

While I think there’s little to no doubt at this point that the latter is a far more valuable weapon on the back-end, Burns’ most optimal deployment is a slightly less cut-and-dried situation.

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