Detroit Red Wings weekly: Overbearing injuries

Just when I thought the Detroit Red Wings (15-9-7) had turned things around, injuries finally caught up with them. This week the Red Wings went 1-2-0. Not good, even worse considering all 3 teams they faced will struggle to make the playoffs (Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, and Florida Panthers).

However, there is no need to panic. Here are my positives and negatives aspects from last week that will explain why.

The Pluses

+ Tatar Sauce

I have always taken a strong liking to Tomas Tatar. Perhaps it’s because he is undersized and plays with a ton of heart. Or maybe it’s because his enthusiastic goal celebrations. Or maybe it’s because I got to watch him play when he was a Grand Rapids Griffin. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because Tatar is my sister’s favorite NHL player. I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself from laughing when she calls him “Tater Tot.”

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What a week for Tomas Tatar, 3 goals and an assist. (Photo Credit: Dave Reginek / Getty Images)

If those reasons weren’t enough, Tatar proved how bright his future is as a Red Wing this past week; Tatar’s performance even turned some heads here at isportsweb.com. He has the potential to take over, with Gustav Nyquist, when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are out of the picture.

The Minuses

- Hank Down

No Pavel Datsyuk, no problem. No Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg; hit the big red button. Before last week the Red Wings had never played without Dats and Hank at the same time because of injuries. It showed.

There was a void of leadership on the ice that just couldn’t be replaced. The mix matching of lines on the fly worked at times but at the same time it could be argued that it was the reason the offense went stagnant for long periods of time. Confidence, consistency, and chemistry are developed through experience. With Zetterberg (and Datsyuk) injured the ship is left sailing without anyone at the helm.

It’s frightening to watch. The Wings need their captain back so he can steer the ship in the right direction.

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Gustavsson or Howard. I never thought have two good goalies would be a problem. (Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

- Between the Pipes

Not only is it frustrating but it’s dividing Hockeytown apart: Jimmy Howard vs. Jonas Gustavsson. Who can the Red Wings’ trust? Should it be Howard with his recently signed mega-contract or Gustavsson playing with the hot hand?  I don’t know. If I pick one option over the other I offend half of the Wings’ fan base either way. So, I plead the fifth.

I will say though that I was a strong Howard supporter but in every game he falters, I start to question my loyalty. Then I start to ponder, maybe Jimmy Howard isn’t the next Chris Osgood or Dominik Hasek.

+/- Rating = -1

It’s hard to judge a team’s performance when they are plagued with injuries. So, while it was a bad week, I can’t rate them lower than a -1. Remove the first line off any NHL team and they will struggle, the Red Wings are no different.

Getting healthy will be the top priority, but the regular season isn’t going to wait up for them. In fact, it’s going to be a rather long week. The Wings have to gear up for 4 games in 6 days.

December 10: @ Florida Panthers

7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit

Standings: (9-17-5) 7th Atlantic Divison, 14th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 7, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 1 – Panthers 2

florida panthers

The Red Wings learned the hard way this past Saturday that you can’t overlook the Florida Panthers. (Photo Credit: Dave Reginek / Getty Images)

Prediction: Pavel Datsyuk is aiming to return for this game. If he does, his presence should motivate the Wings to get revenge against the Eastern Conference bottom feeders. Panthers 1 – Red Wings 3

December 12: @ Tampa Bay Lightning

7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit

Standings: (17-10-2) 4th Atlantic Division, 5th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Nov. 9, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 2 – Lightning 3 in OT

Prediction: The first of two meetings between the Red Wings and Lightning this week. The Wings have been road warriors all season so that’s how I’m justifying this prediction. Lightning 2 – Red Wings 3

December 14: vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

7:00PM EST on NHL Network (or Fox Sports Detroit)

Standings: (20-10-1) 1st Metropolitan Division, 2nd Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 13, 2011 at Pittsburgh/Penguins 1 – Red Wings 4

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It’s hard to believe the Wings haven’t faced Sid the Kid since Nicklas Lidstrom was anchoring the defense. (AP Photo / Jerry S. Mendoza)

Prediction: A win over the Pens would provide a huge morale boost. But, I don’t think the team chemistry is good enough yet to overcome Sidney Crosby. Plus, it’s at home. Maybe this will be the game that ends the Joe Louis Arena blues? I hope so, but I doubt it. Red Wings 1 – Penguins 4

December 15: @ Tampa Bay Lightning

tampa bay lightning

Can the Red Wings catch lightning in a bottle and beat Steve Yzerman’s Lightning twice in one week?

5:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Standings: (17-10-2) 4th Atlantic Division, 5th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 12, 2013 at Tampa Bay

Prediction: I gave the Wings the edge in the first game between with Tampa Bay this week, but I think inconsistency at home will haunt the Wings again here. Red Wings 3 – Lightning 4

As we inch closer and closer to the New Year and the Winter Classic the Red Wings have to keep their focus in the present before they start thinking about the winter festivities that are ahead. This could be a brutal week if the Wings are looking ahead.

I have the Red Wings coming away with 4 points in 4 games. Not great, but not bad either, it’s just average. Yet, average is good enough for the teams the Wings have to face off against this week.

You can follow me on Twitter @AEisen13 and while you’re at it, follow @isportsweb.

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