So here we sit with the Red Wings 19 games played which is normally right around the quarter mark of the season but with the lockout shortened year we’re just five games away from the halfway point.
Detroit sits 9-7-3 after two impressive wins at home against Nashville 4-0 and Vancouver 8-3 which in addition to the impressiveness were much needed confidence boosters before the west coast trip. Even with the travel Detroit will get a chance to rest up after their back-to-back’s on Wednesday and Thursday when they take on Chicago at home on Sunday.
A few bright spots we’ve seen with the Wings as of late are the improvements on special teams play. All of the sudden the power play has moved up for the upper 20’s to 19 and the penalty kill (which still needs work) is slowly creeping up to a better percentage. The penalty kill could also get a boost if and when Helm makes his way back to the lineup this season.
In addition to this here’s what else has gone well for the Wings so far this season.
Zetterberg is among the league leaders in points as he’s tied for 3rd with 25. It was also nice to see him snap his scoring drought against the Canucks. Pavel Datsyuk is also at the top of the heap in points with 22 while the Euro Twins as a whole continue to do what they do. It also looks like the Wings have the sniper they’ve been looking for in rookie Damien Brunner. In the 19 games he’s played Brunner has 10 goals and looks to be matching all the hype surrounding him upon his entry into the League.
Jonathan Ericsson has put himself in an impressive run of play in his own zone. Since coming back from injury, Big E has been a staple in his own zone and has been a strong player to deal with against the boards for opponents.
I also know Wings fans are going to disagree with this one because he had some huge blunders early but Kyle Quincey has played good hockey since the about the time Ericsson has come back. In fact Quincey leads Detroit in plus/minus and despite what some may think his injury was a blow to the defensive unit as a whole.
I also can’t help but mention Thomas Tatar who Detroit has slow cooked in the minors. It also looks like it’s paid off as the kid has had a good opportunity to display his offensive skill set and good hands with 6 points in 11 games played. Tatar has also made the injury to Samuelsson go unnoticed
I don’t like putting Kronwall in here as he has just taken the lead in points for a defenseman but I can’t look past his play during the 5 game winless streak. Just recently he has decided to let his shot fly a little more which has benefited himself and the Wings.
Meanwhile Brian Lashoff mans up opponents pretty good, but gets caught out of position from time to time which in turn has led to goals for the opposition. I’m not killing him as he’s young and it’s his first run with the Wings plus I like him getting the experience.
After being moved up to take Franzen’s spot due to injury Justin Abdelkader, which hasn’t resulted in a drop in play. He though in turn has been exposed for what he actually is, a fourth line winger.
Now it’s going to seem like I’m picking on him and I am but Jakub Kindl has been given every chance to win a job over the past 2 seasons and still hasn’t proved much. He’s certainly skilled on the offensive side, but he makes horrible angles to the shooters, is out of position and just plain bad in his zone. Originally the Wings thought they had a puck moving defenseman in Kind but the only guys he moves the puck to in his zone is the opposition. I liked Kindl but he either needs another year in the minors or a total change in scenery.
And speaking of the defense, the unit as a whole has been patched together. But the truth is Kronwall is a good No. 2 not a No 1. Meanwhile Lashoff to Colaiacovo, Smith to Huskins (at this point), White and Ericsson (hurt) have all factored in this unit playing poor on the penalty kill and 5 on 5. In fact even on the power play Detroit’s defense gives up scoring chances which is totally unacceptable. Still though even with everyone healthy Detroit would lack the skill it’s use too and in turn needs a franchise d-man with the addition of another solid veteran.
As far as injuries go the Wings can’t catch a break. Factor in the little rest, older roster and you have a recipe for very little playoff success. Detroit has missed more time due to injuries than any other team in hockey with Helm, Bertuzzi, Samuelsson, Colaiacovo, Smith, White, Ericsson, Datsyuk (1 game), Franzen, and now Quincey all missing time. The only good news to come out of all the injuries is Babcock has been given the opportunity to play some of the younger guys. So in a way the injuries have been a blessing in disguise as the overall play hasn’t really slipped due to the players lost. Not to mention the younger players will be better going into next season with the experience gained.