The injury bug is inevitable. For every team, there needs to be a Plan B, C, and D in place, in preparation for when the bug ultimately hits, and of course, at the most inopportune of times.
The Red Wings are already starting to feel the affects this early into the season. Danny DeKeyser, the best defenseman on the team, is the most crucial one, being sidelined for the next two weeks. In terms of replacements, Jeff Blashill will have to pick his poison: Madison Bowey, Trevor Daley, or Alex Biega. For an off game or two, anyone of the three can make for a passable stop-gap. But when the top blue-liner is out for an extended period of time, that is when it becomes problematic.
They can only survive for so long with an unreliable D-man getting regular minutes. The only way around it is to give more responsibility to the other members of the top-4. Not ideal, seeing as Mike Green is no longer a dependable big minute option and the inexperienced Dennis Cholowski is still figuring things out.
The only other way to beat around the bush would be some desperation heave call-up of someone like Joe Hicketts or Oliwer Kaski.
With all that taken into account, the loss of DeKeyser is just killer. As concerning as the depth of the D-corps looks, that’s really the best they can do in terms of a Plan B, C, and D. Not great, Bob.
On the forward front, Luke Glendening is expected to be out 2-4 weeks, and Justin Abdelkader is listed as day-to-day. Adam Erne is already on injury-reserve. Evgeny Svechnikov and Givani Smith have now been inserted into the lineup, even though it seems the organization would prefer to take their time developing the two prospects.
Givani Smith, 21, will make his NHL debut on Friday. A parade of injuries prompted the Red Wings to call up the second year pro. (Jenae Anderson/accesshockeymi.com)
All of this transpiring after dropping seven of the past eight games, including the last six is some brutal timing. When healthy they’ve struggled to keep things close, being outscored 27-9 in the current six game losing streak. They simply can’t afford to lose any more key players for neither an abbreviated, nor prolonged period of time. They don’t have the supply to adopt a next-man-up mindset and reap success out of it.
Now posed with the challenges of a lineup that can’t stay healthy, it apparently can, in fact, get worse.
But no matter how you cut it, the on-ice results are far from ideal.
An optimist would call it apart of the process. A pessimist would point to the way they’re losing. The natural scapegoat is the head coach. Allowing five goals a game regularly just isn’t acceptable, but at the same time, what is Blashill supposed to do with this roster? His hands are pretty much tied.
Despite the asterisks, this is a result driven league to most. The fire-Blashill crowd is starting to make their waves, and deserving or not, the criticism is warranted. In past years, Blashill would be far from the hot seat in the eyes of management. But now under a new regime there might be less leeway for “sticking to the process.” There’s always the pressure that comes with a change at the top of the food chain. You have to wonder when Yzerman reaches his boiling point and ultimately looks to hire “his guy.”
So for the sake of his own job security, at the very least, Blashill will have to find away to keep games closer. Weather its tougher coaching or longer practice sessions, he’s got to do something different. From observing his post-game interviews after a loss, he’s been much less specific about where he thought things went wrong. His frustration is usually much more dialed in on specifics, rather then generic claims of poor effort.
But no matter, something must change. And that something can’t just be tweaking with the lines, because if not, fairly or unfairly, he might have to start tweaking with his resumé.