The injury bug has hit the team hard. Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jonathan Ericsson, Jan Mursak, Jakub Kindl and now Ian White are just some of the players who have been injured.
With the short season, the team will need to be able to react and fix issues quickly. There is not much room for error nor time for patience as a team can quickly drop out of the playoff chase.
With that said, here is an early progress report for the team in some key areas.
The offense has not looked good at all. They were held scoreless in the season opener against St. Louis and were less than four seconds away from it happening again against the Dallas Stars.
Their only successful offensive game was against the Blue Jackets when they scored three goals. Injuries have hurt the continuity and cohesiveness of the lines.
Half of their goals have come from their defense. While it is great to have the defense contribute, the front line players need to step up.
Newcomer Damien Brunner is the king of bad luck right now. He leads the team in shots on goal, however only has scored once so far. It appears to just be a matter of time before he starts regularly scoring goals.
Henrik Zetterberg is another player who keeps shooting the puck but just cannot score. He has 13 shots in the three games, good for second on the team.
Players such as Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary really need to start scoring. With the issues and injuries on the defensive side, these players need to help ease the burden by scoring.
The stats are just not good in any area.
– 15 power play chances but zero goals
– One short-handed goal given up
–Second worst penalty kill in the league at 57.1-percent
–Given up six power play goals already
With these numbers, an F seems too generous. On the plus side, at least it cannot get any worse.
While most would immediately think that the defense has been horrible, at even strength they have actually been serviceable. They have only given up four even strength goals, a 1.57 average per game.
The problems occur on the power play. They have given up six goals when they are a man down. They also have given up one short-handed goal.
The defensive unit has been rocked with injuries. Jakub Kindl has yet to play this season. Jonathan Ericsson, Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian White have been knocked out of games. The team has had to sign Kent Huskins as well as call-up Brian Lashoff from their minor league team.
Rookies Brendan Smith and Lashoff have played very well. Lashoff in particular has been impressive. He scored his first career goal in the game against the Blue Jackets. In his two games, he has shown that he is more than ready to be a regular on the team.
Colaiacovo and White will be out of the lineup for at least a few weeks. That should give Lashoff enough time to earn a permanent spot on the roster and the team will be better off with him in it.
Kyle Quincey entered the season with something to prove. He arrived in a midseason trade last year and did not play very well. He got off to a bad start this season as the St. Louis Blues ran circles around him. At this point, the team cannot wait for him to get out of his slump. If he does not improve drastically in the next game or two then it is time to replace him in the lineup.
The St. Louis game was ugly, but there is only so much a goalie can be expected to do. Goalie Jimmy Howard was faced with multiple power plays. The Blues had several breakaway chances as the defense really did not do a good job.
When the offense is only able to muster 14 shots and the defense is not able to stop anything, it puts an unfair work load on the goalie.
He rebounded with a good game against Columbus. He had 30 saves and was perfect in the shootout. Against Dallas, Howard stopped shot after shot yet the offense was not able to score until there were only 3.4 seconds left in the game.
There is no doubt that Howard will have to steal some games this season for the team to do well. However the team in front of him has to at least do something. So far this season, he has not gotten much help.
Luckily for the team, they are only three games into the season. While it is a short season, there is still time to turn things around. Over the next couple of games, several players will be returning from their injuries. Hopefully that will help spark the team to play better.
PJ Sapienza is a Featured Columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings, as well as many other sports. He is also taking part in a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics and would greatly appreciate your support.
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