Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. I’m not a big fan of the theory that “tanking is good” for a franchise, and I don’t believe that the Red Wings are “throwing” games despite their 0-9-and-1 record of late. I truly believe that the Wings are just an incredibly, incredibly mediocre a team this season.
That being said, MLive’s Ansar Khan duly notes that the Red Wings’ odds of earning a high first-round draft pick are improving because the team is struggling so mightily, and Khan discusses the team’s imminent elimination from playoff contention as well:
If the Red Wings (26-35-11, 63 points) lose to the Philadelphia Flyers at Little Caesars Arena in any fashion (regulation, overtime or shootout), they’re out. Even if they win, they would be eliminated if New Jersey (37-26-8, 82 points) defeats San Jose.
This will mark the first time the Red Wings have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since they failed to qualify five years in a row from 1979 to 1983.
The good news: Their odds of winning the draft lottery, or least moving into the top three, are improving.
The Red Wings, during this skid, have dropped from 25th overall to 28th. If that’s where they finish they will have a 9.5 percent chance at landing the No. 1 pick and a 28.6 percent chance of getting into the top three. Those are estimates calculated by tankathon.com’s simulator. The NHL doesn’t release official lottery odds until after the regular season.
The 15-team draft lottery is a merciless business, and with the bouncing balls’ odds not even determined yet, any low-finishing team’s chances of dropping down in the draft lottery are higher than their chances of moving up.
No offense intended, folks, but just as players are hard-wired to try to win, I believe in rooting for wins, even if they’re incredibly elusive because the Wings just aren’t very good.
2. Speaking of mediocre, Petr Mrazek has played perhaps predictably streaky hockey for the Philadelphia Flyers of late.
Mrazek helped the Red Wings’ draft stead by backstopping Philadelphia to a 6-3 win over Washington on Sunday. Mrazek’s 5th win flipped the Wings’ compensation for Mrazek from a conditional 4th round pick to a 3rd-rounder, but it’s going to take a long shot for Mrazek to earn the Wings a 2nd round pick–he has to win at least 6 playoff games and the Flyers have to make the Eastern Conference Finals to trigger the 2nd-round pick…
But Mrazek is already looking forward to Tuesday’s reunion with the Wings, as he told the Delaware County Times’ Rob Parent:
“Well, it’s going to be nice to be back, but when the game starts it doesn’t matter who is on the other side,” Mrazek said. “We’re going there to get some good results, and we have to go from there. But it’s going to be nice … to be back where I had five or six NHL years. It’s going to be fun. I am looking forward to it.”
As Parent notes, however, Mrazek’s play has been inconsistent:
Mrazek, acquired from Detroit when regular goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth went down with injuries last month, won his first three Flyers starts but then swooned as his team suddenly went south.
As the Flyers went from a stretch of no regulation losses in 12 games to seven losses in their next eight games, Mrazek fell to 4-5-1 with a 3.15 goals-against average and .887 saves percentage as a Flyer.
The Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac believes that Mrazek is using Tuesday’s game as something of a carrot-on-a-stick:
After getting yanked for allowing four goals on 10 shots, Petr Mrazek knew he needed a good game. He was solid until one leaky goal at the end when Carlson scored on a backhand and Mrazek was slow to react.
“After the game against Columbus when you don’t finish the game you try to go into the next game with big confidence and build with that,” said Mrazek, who finished with 25 saves. “I tried from the beginning of the game to focus on the puck and get as many pucks as I could. That was a big first period for me and our team.”
More on Mrazek in Tuesday’s Courier-Post but have to wonder if part of the motivation on Sunday was that if he laid another egg he might not get a start Tuesday in Detroit against his former club. Detroit traded him to Philadelphia before the trade deadline and Sunday being his fifth win for the Flyers elevated the fourth-round pick the Flyers spent to a third rounder as long as the Flyers make the playoffs. Each time Mrazek was asked about returning to face the Red Wings, his eyes lit up and he smiled.
“It’s gonna be nice to be back but when the game starts, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side,” he said. “We are going there to get some good result and we have to go from there. It’s gonna be nice to be back in the town where I spent my first five or six NHL years.”
3. You may have noticed that the lip of Niklas Kronwall’s visor has slowly but steadily migrated from the tip of his nose to the center of his forehead again, despite the NHL’s new rule mandating that players wear their visors in front of their faces (see: Tyler Bertuzzi for a good example of visor compliance).
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, there’s a reason why Kronwall, Leo Komarov and several other NHL veterans are wearing their visors as sun visors again:
One interesting development on the visor front is that a handful of players with the option not to use them at all have since been granted dispensation to wear them in a manner not allowed by their younger colleagues. That list includes Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall, Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson and Toronto’s Leo Komarov.
4. Finally, Alex Wood, a.k.a. AWood40 on Twitter and YouTube, has done a tremendous job of compiling Wings highlight videos over the years. This morning, he’s dug into the archives to post 33 of Vladimir Konstantinov’s 47 regular season goals, as well as Konstantinov’s 5 playoff markers: