Four straight losses and the continued struggles of some of the same things has many Detroit Red Wings fans getting antsy. It’s frustrating, especially since many of the same issues that have been a persistent issue (see the power play) are once again troubling the team. Throw in some continued struggles from Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen and suddenly, those good vibes from October and November suddenly seem like distant memories.
Though it’s been tough to watch at times, and the Red Wings 3-0 loss to Winnipeg last night featuring a 6 on 3 power play that choked out whatever air was left in the excitement balloon. This team has been up and down all season, always managing to keep an even level.
And while it appears they may be regressing back to the mean, here are a few things to watch as the Red Wings continue to proceed through growing pains:
Selling and not Buying will be Yzerman’s Priority
If there was any remaining doubts that the team needed to sell instead of buy at the trade deadline, this is removing all of them. Steve Yzerman has done a masterful job of creating more cap space and keeping things available should he want to make a splash down the road or even take on salary to grab more prospects or picks.
Yzerman himself said earlier this week that it’s about patience and there is no timeline. Specifically Yzerman said this according to DetroitHockeyNow’s Kevin Allen:
If there’s a player that can help us and might be with us in a few years and be a contributor in a few years, we’ll try to spend our money and be aggressive when we think it’s appropriate. Nothing has really changed on the aspect of what we are trying to do. We’re gonna stick with it and try to be patient and ultimately just try to make good decisions, whether it be short-term contracts or long-term contracts.
Allen wrote extensively about how it’s important that the Red Wings take a shot at getting a high pick. Rooting for losses over wins? It’s been a constant for some time now with this season providing the first glimmer of hope in years that is now fading.
What about Blashill?
Red Wings Twitter was really hounding Blashill, especially following the power play chances that looked awfully familiar from years’ past. The 6 on 3 failure was especially brutal to watch, and it begins to really ask if the Red Wings make look for another voice–especially after the power play has been consistently poor with different coaches at the helm.
This is purely speculation, but I’ve written before that Blashill seems more snippy than in previous seasons. It’s come through in press conferences and at times on the bench. But with Filip Zadina seemingly stuck in neutral, some puzzling line combinations, and the power play being a major source of frustration, it’s the same issues cropping up that makes one wonder if Blashill is being tuned out. Tuesday’s nonsense that saw the Red Wings outshot 27-2 in the first period was something that really stood out–for all the wrong reasons.
The Red Wings are certainly regressing to the mean that was expected–but it’s how they’re regressing that’s telling. Yzerman likely won’t make any decisions until the end of the season, and there’s certainly plenty of time to even things out again.
But something has just felt off, even before the pause in late December.
Bertuzzi, Larkin are Leading the Way
With Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin scoring at will, this is a sure positive sign that at least the core is where it should be. Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider have been keyed on more now that they’ve shown their importance to the team, and they strengthen that core more. Now it’s time to see adjustments to that–which has been another source of frustration.
With a home and home series against Buffalo, the Red Wings have a chance to get things back on track. But if they struggle again both home and on the road, the angst will only increase–even though truthfully– he Red Wings are still slightly ahead of where we all thought they’d be back in October.
If there’s any one big positive, it’s that everyone is demanding better.