Coming off one of their better stretches, the Detroit Red Wings next face miniseries against the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
The past week ended on a bit of a dud with a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars, but the overall the Wings went 2-1, recording what was just their second two-game winning streak of the season. Losing Jonathan Bernier to a soft-tissue, lower-body injury for an uncertain amount of time — the Wings don’t know if it’ll be days or weeks — is a setback, but on the upside, several skaters are trending in the right direction.
The Wings began last week with a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, one of the best teams in the NHL. Then came a 3-2 victory over the Stars, and the star of that game, Robby Fabbri, leads off this week’s stock watch.
He recorded the second hat trick of his career, first in a Wings uniform, in the first game against the Stars. Fabbri is good at putting himself in positions to score, and at reading his linemates, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. Fabbri is a versatile piece, too, as he’s been effective both at center where he’s played most of the season, but also on the wing, where he has been of late.
He secured the Carolina victory with his first goal of the season, shooting the puck the length of the ice into an empty net. That was part of a three-point effort for the 23-year-old defenseman. Bernier has been the MVP of the season so far (the Wings went 1-5-1 when he was sidelined in late January/early February) and the runner-up is Hronek. He averaged in the 23-minute range every game last week and is key on both special teams.
He’s looked significant better since a combination of injury/four-day break in the schedule facilitated a mental and physical break. Larkin set up three goals last week, going end-to-end on one of them to leave a drop pass for Fabbri. Larkin also seems to have figured out he doesn’t benefit from putting extra pressure on himself because he’s the captain.
The 21-year-old has looked comfortable, showing improvement even from just his first stint with the team in January. He’s getting more shots through he had seven shots on net last week — and improving on faceoffs (he won 38.9% of draws last week). His skating is better, and so is his ability to stay in front of the net on power plays.
He lost his spot in the lineup when Bobby Ryan returned from an upper-body injury last game. Svechnikov, 24, was quiet his last two games he always works hard, but he didn’t create offensively, and that made him vulnerable. If he isn’t playing with the Wings, though, he’d be better served playing in Grand Rapids than being on a taxi squad for longer than a weekend.
Djoos likewise found himself booted from the lineup after going quiet. He has a good shot but he wasn’t effective his last two games, and pulling him enabled the Wings to get a look at defenseman Dennis Cholowski. Djoos needs to use his shot to create chaos around the net, because otherwise he’s not making an impact.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.