For today's Three Questions, we connected for the third time with JJ from WIIM to ask a little about Detroit's current struggles and also a hypothetical. Without further ado...
1. What has been the root cause of this current four-game winless streak for the Wings? Is it the level of competition, or has it finally gotten to the point where we decide that this Wings team just isn't as good as many of its predecessors?
JJ: I think we started the season with the assumption that this Wings team isn't as good as its predecessors, but the recent losing streak has featured three of four games where the Wings scored first and two of four where they at one point had a two-goal lead only to see it slip away. Like your answer to my second question, the Wings have not put together complete efforts and have found themselves unable to prevent events from snowballing over a short period into a key turning point for the games. The Nashville game was a sign that they might be pulling out of that, but there were still too many players who weren't focused enough (and the refs seemed hell-bent on making up for the Matt Duchene goal scored against the Preds on Monday).
2. Is Jimmy Howard burning out? His numbers are Steve Mason-esque right now, and I see that he's played in 14 of your 16 games. Is the lack of depth behind him killing his mojo?
JJ: Lack of depth behind and in front of him seems to be hurting. I'm going to speculate pretty heavy here, but the general book on Howard is that he's a very team-oriented guy, so when the Wings struggle with injuries and with consistency, it feels like he takes it on himself to really try to carry them through and the extra pressure is making it more difficult. Add in the worry that he apparently hid an injury from his staff prior to the Nashville game and it does seem like the Wings will need to get him more rest than he's gotten to this point in the season.
3. If Columbus ends up moving to the Eastern Conference, how pissed will Detroit fans be? Not only because Detroit has long wanted to move East, but also because it drops 3-4 guaranteed wins from the schedule each year in place of a team like Dallas that might actually be more competitive...
JJ: As a fan living in Central Time, I wouldn't be too upset about the Wings staying while the Jackets get the benefit of going "home" to their own time zone. I think by now that a lot of Wings fans are accustomed to their team not getting what's best for them because some other team needs it more; Detroit has a lot of good Western rivalries right now that are almost too much fun to abandon anyway. Besides, if Columbus does well in a draft this deep, it's not going to be guaranteed wins on the schedule if they stay together. Dallas won't concern me as long as they still have the GM who thought he had to add value to James Neal to make him worth Alex Goligoski.
Thanks again to JJ, and be sure to check out WIIM's game-day coverage!