Detroit Red Wings: 5 Changes That Must Occur to Avoid Slow Start to 2013 Season
Helene St. James of The Detroit News reported that Todd Bertuzzi will be out for the first month or so with mononucleosis.
Bertuzzi may have been the only player diagnosed with "mono" before the season started, but if the Red Wings looked at themselves in the mirror last night, they would notice that they played with virtually no energy and left Jimmy Howard on the short end of a 6-0 score.
How can the Red Wings quickly rebound and avoid a slower start to the season?
Here is a five-step plan for improvement.
1. Start Enjoying the Chance to Play Hockey
Forget the 6-0 final score, the Red Wings got out-shot 17-2 in the first period.
Two shots. One period. Do the math.
The Red Wings flat out looked like they did not want to play hockey on Saturday night in St. Louis, and going forward (and in order to avoid a prolonged slump) they need to bring some energy to their games.
Winning a hockey game without skating well is almost impossible. Looking ahead, the Red Wings need a bounce-back, hard-skating game on Monday night in Columbus.
Some tweeters felt that there was another reason that the Red Wings played so poorly:
Clearly the entire team has Mono, not just Bertuzzi.. They just didn't want to admit it because it would seem weird. #ThatsWhatIWillBelieve— Garrett Brooks, Esq. (@GS_Brooks13) January 20, 2013
2. Split Up Brendan Smith and Kyle Qunicey as a Defensive Pairing
Simply put: Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith were the worst defensive pairing on the ice in the opener against St. Louis.
Quincey got embarrassed on multiple occasions by Vladamir Tarasenko on a pair of sweet-looking goals.
Tarasenko, a rookie, submitted his name for early-season Calder Trophy consideration when he beat Quincey on a bounce pass off of the boards that sent him on a breakaway which he buried. Later in the game, Tarasenko pulled the outside-inside move on Qunicey and beat Jimmy Howard back to the forehand.
Quincey, possibly the weakest defensive defenseman on the Red Wings, needs to be separated from rookie defenseman Brendan Smith not only to give the Red Wings a better chance to succeed, but also to give Brendan Smith a chance to grow in his defensive skills.
When Jakub Kindl comes back from injury, Kyle Quincey could find himself as the odd-man out.
3. Watch the Stretch Passes!
Whether it is a pass off of the boards or a stretch pass up the ice, the Detroit Red Wings gave up multiple stretch passes against the Blues.
Most of these stretch passes ended up in the back of the Detroit net.
The Detroit Red Wings' defensemen are obviously not as skilled as last year's group (with the losses of Nick Lidstrom and Brad Stuart), but that does not mean that this year's squad cannot play better than they did tonight in St. Louis.
One simple way to get better defensively is by stopping stretch passes.
Stretch passes are high risk, high reward play as we tonight against the Blues.
Detroit needs to be aware of players on or around their own blue line in regards to stretch passes. If they can stop stretch them, they will be in position to win (or be in position to win) the majority of their games this season.
4. Shoot the Puck
Leaders lead others.
Sounds simple right?
Pavel Datsyuk had two blocked shots and won 83 percent of faceoffs and Henrik Zetterberg had a takeaway against St. Louis.
Great defense, now how many shots did the duo have?
Neither Zetterberg nor Datsyuk had a shot on goal and the Red Wings' offense looked nothing short of lost against the Blues.
The Red Wings only had 14 shots on goal and only seven Detroit players had shots in the game.
Detroit was tied for fourth in the NHL with 32.2 shots per game last season, and the Red Wings will need more of that kind of that production if they are to actually start winning games.
Fourteen shots will not get the job done.
5. Special Teams Don't Need to Be Special, but They DO Need to Be Decent
Four power-play goals allowed on five chances, one short-handed goal, zero power-play goals on four chances.
It would be a blatant lie to say that the Red Wings lost this game in any other area than special teams.
Special teams really don't have to be special!
But they can't be spectacularly bad either.
Figuring out special teams is something that has haunted the Red Wings since last season when they struggled mightily on the power play (16.1 percent) and were not much better on the penalty kill (81.8 percent).
If Detroit can figure out special teams, they should be able to get back on track and put some wins on the board going forward.
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