Detroit Red Wings: 4 Coaching Changes That Will Make Detroit a Cup Contender

Isaac SmithAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2013

Detroit Red Wings: 4 Coaching Changes That Will Make Detroit a Cup Contender

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    The Detroit Red Wings are back on track in the standings after a 3-2 win Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings.

    Even though the Red Wings have now won three games in a row, there are always small things that a team can do better to make it even more prepared for success in the future.

    These small coaching adjustments can turn the Red Wings from chumps into contenders.

    Here are four changes that head coach Mike Babcock should try to turn his team into contenders.

1. Make "The Mule" Angry

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    Some Red Wings fans and hockey experts alike may call Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg the Red Wings' most talented forward.

    I would like to submit another name to that short list.

    Johan Franzen.

    Unfortunately, although Franzen could be the best player on the Red Wings, he has a fatal flaw.

    He takes plays, shifts and entire periods off occasionally.

    This is why, when Franzen was ejected from the St. Louis Blues game last week (Franzen received a major penalty and game misconduct for spearing David Perron), it was ultimately a great thing for him going forward.

    Franzen plays better when he's physically into the game.

    This isn't necessarily to say that Mike Babcock must put Franzen out and tell him to go pick up penalties, but Babcock must figure out a way to get Franzen involved physically in every game.

    When Franzen is physical, he's at his best.

    Poke "The Mule." Get him angry, get him involved.

2. Cut Down on the Giveaways

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    The Red Wings had 14 giveaways in the game against the Los Angeles Kings.

    That should be 14 too many in the eyes of head coach Mike Babcock.

    In its two previous contests, Detroit had only 11 giveaways combined.

    The Red Wings gave up 47 shots on goal against the Kings and a lot of those shots were on second and third opportunities for pucks that didn't get out of the zone.

    Giveaways can make for easy scoring chances by the opposition and it is extremely important that the Red Wings cut down on them going forward.

3. Continue to Block Shots, It Frustrates the Opponent

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    There's nothing that ruins a hockey player's day like getting a wide-open scoring chance, letting the puck go and having it rejected by a defender.

    The Red Wings found this out in this latest game against the Los Angeles Kings when they blocked nine shots and plenty of passes, frustrating the Kings offensively.

    Jimmy Howard made 45 saves, but oftentimes, it was the ones that he didn't have to make that ended up saving the game for the Red Wings.

    Nine blocked shots and 47 shots against is unacceptable.

    In their two previous contests against the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers, the Red Wings blocked a combined 29 shots on goal.

    Defense has been the name of the game over these past three contests, as Detroit has allowed just four goals in the past three games.

    Blocked shots have been a critical part of the defensive success over the past three games.

    They won't usually get one noticed on the scoresheet, but it is a phenomenal idea to get these habits going early in the season because they make a huge difference in the playoffs.

4. Don't Tinker with the Lineup Too Much; It Ruins Chemistry

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    When a team is losing games hand over fist, there is a tendency (and external pressure) to change up the lines.

    Fans saw this early in the season, as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were separated and placed on different lines.

    It's nothing out of the ordinary, as the two are usually separated or paired together when things aren't going according to plan.

    But Mike Babcock needs to realize that, although his team has won three games in a row, tinkering with his lineup (and line chemistry at that) can have treacherous consequences.

    The Red Wings suffered before this three-game winning streak, with just four wins in their first nine contests.

    This was partially because of injury and partially because it seemed like, every night, there were different player combinations.

    No chemistry means no success, and no success means no winning.

    It's important to make changes as necessary, but just because someone is coming back from an injury doesn't mean they should immediately be inserted into a spot that another player might be more confident and prepared to play in.


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