Breaking Down Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson's Starts to 2013-14 Season
They were considered to be among the best free-agent signings of the summer.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland was the envy of most of his peers when the last minutes of July 5, 2013 ticked away and he had the signatures of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss drying on new contracts.
Alfredsson and Weiss figured to fit right into Detroit's system and be difference-makers of the fairly large variety.
While it may be unfair, or maybe just impossible, to judge these players three games into the season, the play of both Alfredsson and Weiss is nevertheless worthy of commentary.
Have they indeed fit right in?
Honestly, they both look pretty good.
In fact, they both look like they've been wearing red and white for years instead of months.
While it's easy to have guessed that an all-world, legendary offensive leader such as Daniel Alfredsson would look every bit the star player he is, on a team rife with fellow Swedes, the assumption isn't altogether obvious.
After all, this is a guy who essentially just went through a very messy and public breakup with a team and a city that had planned on death being the only thing that would part them from their beloved icon.
Added to that, Alfredsson has made no secret of the fact that his intention in starting a new love affair with Detroit was to consummate the relationship with a Stanley Cup championship, sometime in, oh let's say, June.
Make no mistake about it, there is a lot riding on Alfredsson's shoulders, and the expectations for him and his new team are understandably high.
Veteran player or not, those kind of circumstances are bound to mess with a man's mind and his performance.
It would be understandable if, through these first few games of the season, we were to see Alfredsson playing a tight game, second-guessing himself, passing up shots or forcing passes in an effort to prove to himself as well as the hockey world that all the hullabaloo was worth it.
Three games in, Alfredsson looks to be too cool for school.
The laser-guided missiles and nifty passes he built his career on in Ottawa have been on full display his first three games as a Red Wing.
He's occupying the point on the first power-play unit as if he's been there his whole career and is playing with the odd mix of intensity and calm that only players of his ilk can.
While some might have thought that the water in Detroit would have taken Alfredsson some time to get used to, he's jumped right in and thinks the water is just fine.
Alfredsson's new centerman, Stephen Weiss, looks just about as comfortable.
Weiss was acquired to give the Wings a bona fide second-line center—a player that would be dangerous every shift, create regular offensive opportunities and take care of business in his own end.
Weiss has delivered thus far.
Displaying both the speed and the puck-possession skills that Detroit long admired during his career in Florida, Weiss has delivered on the hope that he would quickly find comfort in Detroit and solidify the team down the middle.
While potting the OT game-winner against Carolina quickly upped his stock in Detroit, the fact that he did so by tenaciously driving the net certainly scored him some extra points with his new head coach, Mike Babcock.
Alfredsson and Weiss have fit right in Detroit, but are they difference-makers?
Well, it seems reasonable to argue that judging them by that measure will take a bit longer than three games.
However, suffice to say that, in addition to their own positional talents, they were also acquired to upgrade a couple of parts on Detroit's power-play unit.
That unit is now 0-for-8, a trend looking a bit familiar to the start of last season.
At this point, the biggest difference Weiss and Alfredsson could make is to the lethality of their team when up a man.
Alfredsson has unleashed some of those aforementioned missiles, but they've yet to blow up their target.
Weiss has flirted with offensive potency, but he has yet to set up a play that puts rubber in the back of the net.
Overall, though the power play has looked a lot more dangerous than it did last year, it has been all bark and no bite to this point.
While getting that particular dog to hunt will require more than the contributions of two players, getting a few five-on-four points under their respective belts will go a long way toward making the difference Weiss and Alfredsson so clearly can given their skill sets.
The two newest stars in Detroit are aligning just fine; how bright they will shine is something that remains to be seen.
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