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Three Questions: Assessing the Red Wings After Three Games

January 24th, 2013 at 6:04 PM
By Frank Vajcner

1. Q: Just what is wrong with the Detroit Red Wings?

A: If I was doing this after the opener, then a more apropos question would be, "what isn't wrong?" In the two games since the opening disaster (for lack of a better word), the team has improved dramatically in some areas, but still needs work in others.

For example, they have done a much better job of getting shots on goal (42 and 40 in the last two games, vs. just 14 against the Blues). The great Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100% of the shots that you don't take." So if the Red Wings keep piling up the shots on goal, the more chances they will have of putting the puck in the back of the net. But in order to spark some goal scoring, Mike Babcock has made a change. He moved Pavel Datsyuk to second line center flanked by Valtteri Filppula and Todd Bertuzzi at practice Thursday, and bumped Johan Franzen to first line left winger. Henrik Zetterberg moves to center, and Damien Brunner stays at right wing.

Goaltending has been better, too. Had it not been for Jimmy Howard, the game against Dallas would not have been close. Howard will be relied upon much more this season, and he will have to turn in more performances similar to Tuesday if he wants to be an elite goaltender.

The major issue with the team is the power play. They are 0-for-15 with a man advantage this season. A lot is attributed to the absence of Nick Lidstrom playing the point, and Tomas Holmstrom not being in his office anymore. Despite the "power outage, " Babcock is still sticking with his primary unit of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Franzen up front, with Brunner and Niklas Kronwall at the points. The second unit will now feature Filppula, Bertuzzi, and Danny Cleary up front, with Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl at the points.

So in conclusion, Babcock sees where the problems lie on offense. Power play units need time to gel, so give the first unit time, and hopefully things will get better.

2. Q: Is Kyle Quincey on thin ice (pun intended) after three games?

A: Quincey has become a popular scapegoat since the opener due to his play on the ice (getting burned on breakaways, taking dumb penalties, etc). Before anyone sends me expletive-laden comments about Quincey, just remember that he can't be sat yet due to the amount of injuries. For now, he will remain skating with Smith, but when Jonathan Ericsson returns from a shoulder injury, it would not be surprising at all to see Quincey get benched, as call-up Brian Lashoff has played very well with Kronwall. Jakub Kindl will be back tomorrow night for the Minnesota game, and will likely be paired with Kent Huskins.

3. Q: Are things going to get better or worse?

A: In all honesty, things will get better for the team, but it won't happen immediately. The remainder of January is not easy, as the Wings host the Wild tomorrow, play the Blackhawks Sunday in Chicago, and host Dallas Tuesday. February starts with a back-to-back (home vs. Blues Feb. 1, at Blue Jackets Feb. 2). If nothing improves in that stretch, then general manager Ken Holland will have to make some changes (and for the record, firing Babcock will NOT be one of them).

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL

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