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Archive for April, 2012

Detroit Red Wings Only Have Themselves to Blame for Losing to Nashville

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on April 20, 2012

For 20 years now the Detroit Red Wings have established a record of excellence unmatched in sports history. Their 20 straight playoff appearances, multiple Stanley Cups, and consistent level of play has been a modern marvel. They survived through the institution of a salary cap and were able to maintain the same level of excellence.

This year, the Wings seemed poised for another run. They set a new record for consecutive home wins during the regular season and seemed like a team that had what it took to win playoff series and possibly get back to the finals. They faded as the season came to a close, however, and ended up with a No. 5 seed.

Fans were confident that they could beat Nashville, although many predicted it to go 7 games. In the end though, the Wings proved to be no match for a stronger, quicker, and more advantageous Predators team. The Preds and Wings played were different styles. The Wings typical puck possession style of play dominated for large portions of several of the games and they managed to generate a large number of shots. Looking at the shot totals alone was very deceiving. Quality shots were few and far between for the Wings.

The Wings seemed to adjust to their style to throw shots at the net with as much screening as possible. Often focusing on rebound opportunities on Rinne’s blocker side. This had a little success but not nearly enough. Rinne was able to stop most shots without a rebound or the shots were quickly swept away by a collapsing Predators defense. The Predators simply stayed in tight, even allowing the Wings to move the puck on the outside perimeter of their zone at times.

Mike Babcock took offense to the notion that they were mostly getting shots from the outside and not getting quality opportunities before game 5. Any review of the film though seemed to support that idea. The Wings throw and go style wasn’t effective enough at crowding the net. The physical Nashville defense was able to fight the Wings off the net, neutralizing their rebound chances.

In a stark contrast, the Wings defense was neither tougher, physical, or smart. They were good at blocking shots and stealing pucks but struggled mightily with positioning. The first goal of game 5 was just another in an ugly string of defensive lapses by Detroit. Detroit continued to chase the puck and leave the front of the net open. Attempting to get numbers in the fore check battle, the Wings left voids in the middle of their zone which Nashville took advantage of. They regularly slipped guys in with little effort, getting point blank opportunities.

It is not what Red Wings fans are accustomed to seeing from their team that has always been known for being sly, smart, and controlled. The sloppy lapses in the defense weren’t the only issue for the Wings. The sloppiness in their own zone when handling the puck lead to multiple scoring opportunities and several goals. The Wings looked almost lazy. The talk locally was that the Wings had several injured players. Injuries are no excuse for lack of effort, which is what I saw from them.

It is hockey though and I sincerely hope that we find out that most of the main guys were playing hurt. That would at least explain some of the slow play, loss of concentration, and mental lapses. Playing through pain can have a real effect. it is worth noting that Lidstrom looked awful in a lot of the series and seems to be really suffering from the injury he sustained back in the regular season. He still wore extra padding and was taken off the power kill units. Sure signs he was playing hurt.

There are two things that concern me most with this team moving forward. First, they seemed to lack enough quality depth to make up for players lost to injuries. They played several younger players but no one really stepped up and showed they were ready to take over a real role on the team yet. Second, the Wings didn’t seem to play with the same will power as in years past. Even just last year, when they came back against San Jose, the Wings showed a grit and determination that made you believe that maybe they could pull it out. In this Nashville series the Wings lacked effort and intensity throughout the series. They had moments were the energy level rose, such as after the Huddler goal in game 5. They showed they could raise their level of play but they didn’t play with any consistent effort. They really disappointed their fans. I would blame injuries but I think leadership may be more likely to blame. Something unheard of in Hockeytown.

I hoep the Wings are able to revamp their roster a little and get some speed and hungrier players. Or maybe even just look in the mirror and decide they want greatness again. Either way, I would hate to see them lose becauee of sloppy play and lack of effort. It’s not what the Red Wings should ever be known for. In the end, it may goo down as exactly what they were known for in 2012.

David McClure

@detsportsmore

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2012 Draft Prospects: All Underrated Team

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on April 10, 2012

There are so many mock drafts out there, I didn’t think another one was needed. I did think it would be both fun and challenging to sift through the hundreds of NFL hopefuls and build a team of players that are generally undervalued by most mock drafters. My goal is to fill out a starting roster of guys choosing the most undervalued and underrated prospects that I think deserve to be more highly thought of.

Starting Offense:

  • QuarterbackRyan Lindley, SDSU – Lindley has an NFL arm and experience in a pro-style offence. He needs to work on accuracy and dealing with pressure. He can make the throws but he has been inconsistent at times. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him much higher than the late round projections he mainly receives.
  • Running BackLaMichael James, Oregon – James was such an electric college player but his short stature really drags his stock down. He has burst, wiggle, and a low center of gravity. Although not a prototypical feature back, James may surprise many with his ability to make people miss and pick up extra yards. In an NFL weight program, he needs to add lower body mass and power to help break more tackles.  With added power, think Ray Rice, without it, Darren Sproles. Either way, I’ll take it and work with it.
  • Full BackTerrance Ganaway, Baylor – Ganaway was considered a running back prospect at one time but I think he is a better fit at full back. At over 240 pounds and with 4.6 speed, he could turn into a valuable lead blocker and has the skill to catch the occasional pass or get carries in short yardage situations.
  • CenterBen Jones, Georgia – Jones is usually predicted in the middle rounds. I think that he is slightly undervalued, not majorly undervalued. That fits the bill though. Worthy of a second round pick, Jones is a good technician that plays smart and seems to have a good grasp on the game. He doesn’t jump off the screen but he knows how to play the position and has the size and strength to transition to the NFL. He very well may end up being a starter in the future.
  • Left GuardKevin Zeitler, Wisconsin – Zeitler should be a first round pick in my opinion. He consistently beat NFL level defensive tackles with his combination of size, strength, and smarts. He plays blocking angles well and already has NFL level power. If it wasn’t for the DeCastro love-fest, Zeitler would be talked about as a first round guard.
  • Right GuardBrandon Brooks, Miami of Ohio – Brooks was a combine snub. It’s a shame because his physical size is his most impressive asset at first glance. The 6-5, 345 pound Brooks is a mauler in the making. He has good feet for his size and I think he will settle in on a team that likes some beef in their lineup.
  • Right TackleKelechi Osemele, Iowa State – Osemele is so big that many think he must be a Guard at the next level. Not so. He compares in stature to players like Phil Loadholt, who struggles mightily with speed rushers. Osemele is much lighter on his feet, however, and has great length. I think he will start at right tackle for many, many years in the NFL.
  • Left TackleBobbie Massey, Ole Miss – Let me say, left tackles are usually overrated so finding an underrated one is quite difficult. Massey is my pick because I think he can stay at left tackle and probably deserves a first round grade. He simply beat defenders in the run game, and is a superb run blocker. He is surprisingly athletic and has the potential to stay on the left side. I don’t see him as a pro-bowl candidate but I do think he could settle in as a serviceable to good left tackle or a very good to pro-bowl caliber right tackle.
  • Wide Receiver (1)Tommie Streeter, Miami – Streeter has the size and speed you need from your top wideout. He needs some development but is mostly an afterthought in the draft. He has the things you can’t coach and needs the things that can be taught. I think he is worth a shot in the third round although I usually see him in round 5 and on.
  • Wide Receiver (2)Greg Childs, Arkansas – A bit of a gamble, Childs had injury issues that slowed production but appears to be getting healthier again. He has good measurables and when healthy he was highly productive. I don’t think he is going to be an elite NFL player but he could be a good number 2 wide out.
  • Tight EndOrsen Charles, Georgia – He has character concerns, no question, but he has great potential. He is a very impressive tight end prospect that will make plays, not just block. He can really stress a defense and make plays. Hopefully he keeps his nose clean, works hard, and realizes his potential.

Starting Defense:

  • Defensive Tackle/Nose tackleJosh Chapman, Alabama – Chapman played hurt most of the year but strikes me as a blue-collar defensive tackle. he’s not going to make a lot of splash plays but I think he could be a consistent run stuffer that is capable of anchoring against double teams.
  • Defensive Tackle /Under TackleMike Martin, Michigan – Martin was constantly double teamed and still managed to make an impact on games. he had a great post season and has the potential to be a solid starter as an under tackle in a 4-3 defense. I don’t think he has the size to play on the nose in the NFL.
  • Defensive End (Left)Jake Bequette, Arkansas – Bequette is not a double digit sack guy in the NFL but he could play defensive end on a 4-3 or 3-4 team. He is a capable run stopper that has the strength and speed to get to the quarterback and force him to step up into the pocket. He is another solid player that isn’t as flashy but will make plays consistently with his motor, strength, and deceptive speed.
  • Defensive End (Right)Vinny Curry, Marshall – Curry is typically a second round pick but I think he is a late first round talent. He’s still underrated and could be one of the big draft surprises next year.
  • Outside Linebacker (Strong/Rush) – Bruce Irvin, West Virginia – I’m sure this will raise some eyebrows but the kid knows how to rush the quarterback and is highly gifted athletically speaking. He is raw and slightly undersized but I think a year or two of development and he could be a pro-bowl caliber player, he’s that talented. He projects well to rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I really think this kid is going to be a mid round steal if he keeps his head on straight.
  • Middle Linebacker (Inside)Mychal Kendricks, Cal – Kendricks has slowly moved up draft boards but this kid should challenge Luke Kuechely for the top middle backer in the draft. He was underrated going into the combine and turned heads wth his outstanding athleticism and speed. He is powerful, has great vision, good instincts, and I think he will be a starting middle line backer next season.
  • Outside Linebacker (Weakside)Lavonte David, Nebraska – First round talent all the way. The kid can play, he’s all over the field, reading defenses, tackling anything with a ball. I think he’s a perfect 4-3 WLB in the pass happy NFL. He has elite speed for a linebacker and is as multi-dimensional as it gets. He’s not undersized like some reports say. I feel very strongly that Lavonte David will be turning heads in the NFL next year.
  • Corner (1)Jayron Hosley, VaTech – Hosley was once considered a first round prospect but he has just sort of slid down draft boards with no real reasoning. He is a good athlete, he has the speed and instincts to be a solid corner at the next level. I think Hosley should be drafted in the top 45 picks although he will probably fall further than that.
  • Corner (2)Brandon Boykin, Georgia – Boykin is one of the best athletes in the entire draft. He would do well to add some size and strength but he is the same size as many NFL corners. Boykin is an explosive return man and with his exceptional athletic ability he has the potential to be a true number 1 corner in a few years.
  • Strong SafetyAntonio Allen, South Carolina – Allen is a solid athlete who has teh versatility you need at teh safety position. He has real starting potential and belongs in the second round.
  • Free SafetyBlake Gideon, Texas – Gideon has been a solid playmaker for Texas. He is an afterthought on many draft boards but he reminds me of the typical solid, but unspectacular prospect. He will play consistent, make occasional plays, tackle well, and be a solid addition to any team looking for quality depth with starting potential.

Posted in 2012 Mock Draft, NFL Draft Prospects | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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