The Detroit Red Wings (20-16-10) went into California last week and battled with the best the Western Conference had to offer. The San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks had a combined total of 14 home losses before hosting the Red Wings. So, it’s not that surprisingly that the Wings only managed to grab 2 points in their first road trip out west this season.
Making its return to the weekly after a week off is my plus/minus report. It’s where I try to pull out the positives and negatives from the past week of Red Wings’ hockey.
+ Stepping Up
It seems the wounded Wings can never get completely healthy. Every time somebody is ready to get back into the lineup another man goes down. It’s been a rotation of players in and out of the lineup all season long. While this is obviously a problem (which will be addressed below), in a strange way it’s also positive.
Without the injuries, what would have happened to Tomas Tatar? Before the season even started I wrote a piece saying the Wings needed to find ice time for Tatar to be productive. The Wings didn’t have room for him and he sat on the bench for the first few games of the season. It’s the injuries that got him playing time and eventually confidence in the offense. We are only now starting to reap the benefits of this.
The same can be said about the other numerous Grand Rapids Griffins that have been brought up to fill the holes. Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening, Brian Lashoff, and even Petr Mrazek have done their part in keeping the Wings in the playoff picture.
Not only are these players getting valuable experience but they are finally getting a chance to prove their worth at the next level. So, at the very least, the abundance of injuries has shown management and the fan base that the future of the organization is still very bright in Detroit.
– Coaching Style Hindered by Chemistry
The major downside to all these injuries is the lack of chemistry on the ice. This has a direct correlation with the occasional stagnant offense and an increase in the number of unforced turnovers.
Sure we all know Mike Babcock isn’t afraid to mix up the lines as he separates Datsyuk and Zetterberg from time to time in order to spark the offense. But line management now is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle rather than a crafting the checkmate move in chess.
Babcock just doesn’t have all the pieces to put the puzzle together. While some coaches are good at piecing together a team, Babcock comes across as one of those chess type coach. He needs all of his pieces in place with an understanding of what they can or can’t do.
So, with all these players coming in and out of the Wings lineup it’s really impossible for Babcock to coach the way he wants to coach and continue to win hockey games.
+/- Rating = Even
That’s it, just two points I wanted to bring up about last week. In all fairness, the Wings fought hard and only came away with the victory against the Kings. By taking out a sloppy 2nd period against the Sharks or the neutral ice turnover against the Ducks that resulted in the only goal of the game, the Wings could have come away with a few more points last week.
But let’s not get into the “What if…” game. The Wings just need to keep fighting and play with a high level of energy, like they did in California, then I have no doubt things will start to turn around for the better.
They have two games ahead this week to try and turn things and move back into playoff position.
January 16: @ New York Rangers
7:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (24-21-3) 4th Metropolitan Division, 7th Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Oct. 26, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 2 – Rangers 3 in OT
Prediction: Whoever gets the first goal will probably win this crucial Eastern Conference match-up. Both teams have struggled to light the lamp this season so expect a low scoring affair. Rangers 1 – Red Wings 2.
January 18: Vs. Los Angeles Kings
7:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (19-16-5) 3rd Pacific Division, 6th Western Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Jan. 11, 2014 at Los Angeles/Kings 1 – Red Wings 3
Prediction: The start of a 5 game home stand in which the Kings will be seeking revenge from a week ago. Crossing my fingers for another Detroit win over Los Angeles (especially because I’ll be in attendance) so I’m going to use reverse physiology and pick the Wings to lose. Red Wings 2 – Kings 4.
The Winter Olympics are right around corner and the playoffs are closing in as well.
Can the Red Wings get their act together before it’s too little, too late? History indicates they will.
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