The fat lady may be warming up, but she hasn't stepped on stage yet. I still am hopeful we can pull it off.
There is no doubt that this team is dealing with adversity—Dougie, Pesce, and both goaltenders out, PP & PK on the decline, and some players having poor seasons (Staal, Gardiner, maybe Nino). There's no one player or coach who shoulders most of the blame—it's a team thing. But it seems to me that two things need to change team-wise for us to make the playoffs.
First, we've got to start moving the puck up the ice and into the O-zone without dumping and chasing (and typically giving the puck up) or our D-men taking shots from the blue line without anyone within a mile of the net. We're just lazy—it's easier to dump or take long shots than making good passes, everyone getting their butts up the ice quickly, and creating chances to score. To me, that's a coaching thing and needs to be corrected.
Second, we've got to have intensity the moment we hit the ice. As everyone has noted, we're showing up late and spotting the other team one or more goals to start. It's not clear why our mental focus is so lacking at the start of games. You would expect professional athletes to have learned to self-motivate, but that simply does not happen on a regular basis with us. We've seen the team come out ready to play in the 3rd and close the gap or even eek out a close win, so it CAN happen with this team. Rod, the assistants, Jordan, and JWilly (or whoever else) need to figure out what's going on and fix it. We can't keep showing up mentally one or two periods and expect to make the playoffs.
Of course, we got to have everyone elevate their individual games and our AHL goalies have got to come through (and get Mrazek back), but from a team standpoint, the above two issues need to be solved. We've got to come together as a team on the ice.