Winners and Losers of Detroit Red Wings' Preseason so Far
The Detroit Red Wings fans, coaching staff and management have likely learned a lot about the team through the first two preseason games.
The purpose of the preseason, of course, is to make impressions on coaching staff and management. These impressions will later be used in determining not only roster spots, but also the call-up order of players.
Here are seven Red Wings' players who have been either winners or losers so far.
Winner: Dan Cleary
Dan Cleary re-signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings prior to the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
As he would be the 15th forward that the Red Wings have signed to an NHL contract, some would argue that he shouldn't have been re-signed due to his lack of regular season productivity last season.
But Cleary showed what he could bring to the table. Not only a gritty, grind-it-out-type of mentality, but also a net-front presence.
Cleary was screening Pittsburgh's Tomas Vokoun on the first of two Adam Almquist power-play goals. Vokoun had absolutely no idea where the puck was on either goal.
Loser: Johan Franzen
Johan Franzen had a sore hip flexor and sat out Tuesday night's contest against the Chicago Blackhawks.
According to Helene St. James of Detroit Free Press, Franzen was "penciled in" to the left-wing spot on a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, but his injury kept him out of the lineup. Todd Bertuzzi filled in for him there.
The issue for the Red Wings at the start of last season was their third-line and fourth-line scoring. This season, the issue could be the chemistry and ultimately the scoring of the second line.
If Franzen's injury lingers, not only is he the "loser" in terms of losing out of establishing chemistry with Weiss and Alfredsson, but the Detroit Red Wings as a whole are losing out.
Mike Babcock could have to juggle the lines again by uprooting Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
No Red Wings' fan wants to see that.
Winner: Adam Almquist
Adam Almquist—as stated in the Dan Cleary slide—put up two power-play goals in Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Almquist isn't just a "winner" for scoring those goals, however. He is a winner for how he scored the two goals.
Both goals were slap shots, but Almquist was looking at the net for both goals.
The key for him is that he recognized that he was shooting on a screened goaltender. While a lot of players would just fire it towards the net, Almquist hits a specific spot on the goal.
For being just 174 pounds, per NHL.com, Almquist sure has a cannon from the point. He thinks the game well for a 22-year-old and could be the Red Wings' next steal as he was a seventh-round selection back in 2009.
Those two goals likely vaulted him up in the defense prospects rankings as far as Red Wings' management is concerned.
Loser: Jordin Tootoo
The biggest thing that Jordin Tootoo will "lose" on in the preseason is proving that he deserves a roster spot.
Although the Red Wings alternated players between games in Pittsburgh and Chicago, Tootoo played the least amount of ice time for any Red Wings player at just 10:27. His ice time was the second least between the two games, only because Andreas Athanasiou's two line mates were both ejected for game misconducts.
Tootoo normally should have been able to play "up" a line or two, seeing as how this is the preseason. That didn't happen, as Tootoo had an entire line of prospects (plus Tomas Tatar) ahead of him, according to Detroit's Twitter account.
Whether this is writing on the wall or simply Mike Babcock's way of playing Tootoo is up for debate. As far as getting a roster spot goes, however, there is certainly the argument that there are far more talented and perhaps "useful" players than Tootoo.
He is a "loser" thus far in the preseason.
Winner: Jonas Gustavsson
What does a goalie do when he has a relatively poor season? Forget about it and start over.
Such is the case with Jonas Gustavsson so far in the preseason. Although he let in two goals on 23 shots over two periods, his play was noticeably better for Detroit against Chicago on Tuesday night.
Gustavsson's Red Wings were shorthanded for almost 12 minutes of the first two periods that he played.
"The Monster" stopped 10 shots while the Red Wings were shorthanded, allowing the Wings to hang around in a game that they had no business being in. Detroit was outshot 23-13 through two periods, and Gustavsson gave the Red Wings a chance to win despite being shelled.
Gustavsson's performance quieted those fans that were calling for the Red Wings to bring Petr Mrazek up to backup Jimmy Howard. If he can continue this level of play into the regular season, he has the backup goaltending job locked up.
Loser: Stephen Weiss
Stephen Weiss needs to step up for the Red Wings as their second-line center.
Mike Babcock has great expectations for Weiss, per Ansar Khan of MLive. Babcock wants Weiss to be "ultra competitive" and "bring it every day...because he was going to hate [playing in Detroit] if he didn't."
Strong words for Mr. Weiss—an ultimatum of sorts.
Through one preseason game, Weiss was AWOL on the shot chart, despite playing 21:05 of ice time. Although he did win 15 out of 21 faceoffs in the game, Weiss was a non-factor otherwise. As part of the team's "top line" in that preseason game, the Red Wings needed more out of Weiss.
In order to stay out of Mike Babcock's dog house, Weiss must show up on the score sheet for something other than penalty minutes.
Goals, assists, shots on goal, blocked shots and takeaways would show that Weiss did more than skate around the rink for 21 minutes. As of right now, no one can say that for certain.
Winner: Patrick Eaves
When a hockey team loses 2-0, there generally aren't many bright spots. Patrick Eaves was a bright spot for the Red Wings on Tuesday night against Chicago.
Eaves was a minus-1, but played his behind off in the process with four hits and a shot on goal.
Although Eaves was on the ice for one of the two Chicago goals, he did help the Red Wings completely shut down the Blackhawks' power play. He played 3:10 of shorthanded ice time, and the Blackhawks failed to convert on all six of their power-play chances.
As a player who is likely fighting for a roster spot, so far so good for Eaves.
All statistics via NHL.com.
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