It’s time for one final purge, a master cleanse of the Red Wings’ just completed season.
We’ve established who you shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t blame for the Red Wings’ playoff demise. Now it’s time to chop off some heads, and there a plenty of candidates for the guillotine. Let’s start with the lowest scorers in the Responsibility Number.
1. Brendan Smith -3.55 (+1.86, -5.41). The only player responsible for a loss by himself, Smith clearly deserves to be No. 1 on your hit list. But that doesn’t mean the Red Wings should get rid of him. (They likely won’t. He’s a restricted free agent.) The -5.41 is putrid, but it’s also fixable, a product of bad positioning and boneheaded plays rather than a lack of skill. Smith is 24 years old. He may never have that transcendental hockey sense, but he can learn to be in better position and have a coach drill him in the art of not staring at the puck.
It wasn’t too long ago that a young Niklas Kronwall jumped into every play, staying around to forecheck in the corner. Smith will calm down, and when he does, he’ll add a missing ingredient. Look at his positive number. +1.86. That’s almost double the offensive production of the next highest defenseman (Jakub Kindl, +0.95). His offensive instincts are there. But, until he finds the defensive ones, blame him.
2. Niklas Kronwall -2.19 (+0.25, -2.44). His playoffs were a Rubik’s cube. The Red Wings needed more out of their best defenseman. Yet, he averaged more than 25 minutes a game. Had the rest of his battalion been a little more skilled, maybe he wouldn’t have had to play so many minutes and have so many opportunities to make a mistake. Also, about 40 percent of his negatives came from one game out of the 14 he played. Then again, that ‘one game’ was Game 7 against Chicago. He also had the worst Responsibility Number out of anybody for the entirety of the Chicago series, posting a -1.86.
Give Kronwall deserves some blame, but not as much as his numbers indicate.
3. Kyle Quincey -1.88 (+0.20, -2.44). Credit Quincey for staying consistent. Ever since returning to the Red Wings in that 2012 trade, he’s been a constant source of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!”s, with one play every now and then to make you think he might able to turn it around. His playoffs were an embodiment of that. The +0.20 came in Game 2 against Anaheim, the perfect time for everyone to think Quincey would be better this playoffs. He spent the next 12 games showing he wasn’t, and he deserves the blame that will come from unassembled masses.
4. Brian Lashoff -1.63 (+0.20, -1.83). It’s difficult to blame him for the Red Wings’ demise when he only played in one series, which the team won. But maybe if he was better, Kronwall, Smith and Quincey wouldn’t have had to play as much. Maybe the Red Wings wouldn’t have had to bring in Carlo Colaiacovo and deal with his mistakes. He’ll take some blame, but it can’t be too much. This is like blaming Ian White for the Red Wings’ loss. Sure he isn’t good, but he wasn’t responsible for much because he was never asked to be.
5. Jimmy Howard -1.51 (0, -1.51). Uh no. We went over Jimmy Howard. He belongs here.
Valtteri Filppula -0.93 (8th worst on the team) (1.90, -2.83). Strictly by numbers, he was the second worst forward on the team behind Joakim Andersson. But Andersson was asked to kill penalties. Filppula was asked to produce goals. He was eighth on the team in doing so. He needed to be at least in the top five. He was also responsible for allowing one more goal than he earned, (including 0.5 in the Chicago series). When the season ends in overtime in Game 7 those goals you were expected to score combined with the the extra one you gave up tell a fortune: You deserve blame. Not the contract you’re about to get in free agency.
The happily ever after is that it won’t be the Red Wings paying Filppula $5 million next year.
My final blame sheet, in order:
- Brendan Smith
- Valtteri Filppula
- Kyle Quincey
- The pupu platter of defensemen that weren’t good (Lashoff, White, Carlo Colaiacovo)
- Niklas Kronwall
Now go. Be knowledegable. Spread the word.