Detroit Red Wings: 5 Players Who Should Be Worried About Their Jobs
Coming off of back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend, Detroit's season has gone about as well as it could go, keeping in mind the 0-5-1 stretch that Detroit suffered through after starting the season with five consecutive wins.
For the moment, Detroit has righted the ship, but it still faces an uphill battle this season, as it seems that almost every team in the Western Conference has improved significantly, whether it be externally or internally.
The Red Wings sit in eighth place in the West with two games in hand on most of the teams above them, but the road to stay in the playoffs—much less elusive home-ice advantage—will not be easy.
Although Detroit's season continues to be one of two stories, a few notable key players and role players have not met expectations in their performance so far, at the quarter points of the season.
Because of these poor-performance outputs, these five players have earned a spot on my "underachiever" list.
Find out which five individuals find themselves facing a job crisis at the quarter point of the season by reading on.
1. Todd Bertuzzi
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To be fair, Todd Bertuzzi's three points in 13 games are likely not representative of what he could do on the ice.
But then again, such is the story with the rest of Detroit's underachieving portion of the lineup.
Bertuzzi has missed six games this season, mostly due to dizziness.
It's safe to say he will not be scoring very many times when he is unable to balance on the ice.
But Bertuzzi is taking up a roster spot that could be given to Jan Mursak when he returns from injury in the next month.
Bertuzzi, to his credit, does have 22 hits in the last 13 games, so he has not been completely missing in action as far as no points.
But Bertuzzi has not been taking care of the puck, with a minus-two in the turnover department, and a plus/minus of plus-1 overall.
His lack of offensive production has to cause some concern, seeing as how he has been playing on the top line with Datsyuk and Franzen
2. Cory Emmerton
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Now, I know that nobody expected Cory Emmerton to come in and put up massive numbers in his rookie season, but come on!
Two points in 19 games?
Now I know all you math majors out there are sitting at home saying: "two points at the quarter-way mark in the NHL season means he's on track for eight points at the end of the season."
Eight points is not a terrible statistic from a guy who only averages 8:44 of ice time per game.
But Emmerton isn't even leaving his mark as a fourth-line player.
He's got 10 hits in 16 games, and he's given the puck away five times compared to his one take-away.
So what exactly is Mr. Emmerton doing on the ice when he's out there?
I am not too sure about that one, but there's a good chance that if his numbers do not pick up soon, we could see him being traded in exchange for a player who can be sent to the minors.
Emmerton cannot be sent to the minors without clearing waivers, but at this point, I doubt that any team would actually take him off of waivers after seeing his disappointing performance thus far.
3. Patrick Eaves
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Patrick Eaves is another player that is likely in coach Mike Babcock's dog house.
Eaves has one point, an assist, in nine games played.
But it is not for a lack of trying for Eaves, as Eaves has 19 shots on goal, 17 hits, six blocked shots and two takeaways in just under 11 minutes of ice-time a game.
I hope Babcock doesn't scratch Eaves for too many more games, as he is truly an asset on the penalty kill, averaging two-and-a-half minutes per game on the penalty kill.
Eaves is a role player, and hopefully Babcock sees him fit to fill that role of grinder and premier penalty killer and not as a player who can be scratched on more nights than not.
4. Jonathan Ericsson
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So let's recap.
Emmerton, on track for eight points. Eaves, on track for about the same, but seems to contribute more. Both Eaves and Emmerton play on the fourth line.
Now we have Jonathan Ericsson. Seemingly top-four defenseman on the Red Wings.
Ericsson has played all 19 games for Detroit so far, yet he has an eye-popping two points.
"Yeah, but he has 22 shots on goal, and 34 hits, and 14 blocked shots."
Well, yeah he does, but he also has two takeaways and 10 giveaways. For my money, I think the fact that he only has 10 giveaways is being generous.
Ericsson signed a three-year deal worth almost $10 million dollars in the offseason, and so far, he hasn't been worth half of his deal.
I remember last year saying to myself "well here's Ericsson on the ice, Detroit is going to give up a goal here."
It is truly unfortunate that I have to say that, but the fact is that if a player is drafted in the ninth round, maybe—just maybe, mind you—there is a reason that there were 290 players selected before him.
With the recent play of Brendan Smith, who has tied Ericsson in points with two assists in only three games, Ericsson might have a limited shelf life in Detroit.
He should feel his seat becoming a little bit warmer with each game that he struggles in his own end and struggles to chip in on offense.
5. Dan Cleary
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Dan Cleary has 66 shots on goal this season.
So maybe the fact that he only has three goals suggests that he needs to get the puck to other people who are having more success finding the back of the net.
But keep shooting, by all means, if that is what it is going to take to get Mr. Cleary back on track.
Cleary put up nine shots in the San Jose game, and he didn't score until his ninth shot. Talk about persistence.
Cleary must start looking to pass more unless he has wide open opportunities, because his six points through 19 games are just not going to cut it.
Cleary is coming off of a career season last year with 26 goals and 46 points, but his shooting percentage numbers are only a third of what they were last year, currently sitting at 4.5 percent.
Patience pays off for players normally, but how long Cleary can keep up this torrid pace in shots in an effort to score more remains to be seen.
He should start feeling his seat get just a little bit warmer for every game that he struggles, but his efforts are not going unnoticed, as he also has 29 hits.
That being said, some more points would be nice, too.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Howard
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Jimmy Howard has been nothing short of stellar over the first 19 games, going 10-5-1 with a 1.85 GAA, a 93.0 save percentage and three shutouts.
But what happens when he starts allowing a few more goals here and there, and goes back to the Jimmy Howard of years past?
Howard should be worried about his job, but not in the same sense as the other Red Wings already mentioned in this article.
He is playing out of his mind in goal, and if his play falters slightly, watch for there to be repercussions in the Red Wings record.
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