nyquist

Home Opener Lineup

Lineup

Here is the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup for their home opener against the Boston Bruins. Lineup per DailyFaceoff.com.

Justin Abdelkader  – Henrik Zetterberg – Johan Franzen

Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Jurco

Gustav Nyquist – Darren Helm – Andrej Nestrasil

Drew Miller – Joakim Andersson – Luke Glendening

Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser – Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey – Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

 

5 Things to Watch Tonight

1. Can Danny DeKeyser and Brendan Smith continue strong pre-seasons into the regular season?

2. Will Jimmy Howard return to form and be the goalie he was in the 2011-12 season?

3. Can the youngsters avoid a sophomore slump? A lot is expected of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and Gustav Nyquist this season.

4. After being a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs last year, can Joakim Andersson establish himself as an everyday player?

5. For the love of God, can we please stay healthy?

 

Very Special Teams

Last season, the Red Wings’ special teams were, well, not up to par. Our penalty kill was atrocious at times, especially against the Bruins in the first round. Additionally, the power play was not very powerful. It was difficult to gain some consistency on special teams with players missing so much time during the season, but that should not stop world-class hockey players from capitalizing on the man advantage.

Looking ahead to next season, I wonder if the Red Wings will continue to use the Tomas Holmstrom screen in front of the net. Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader, David Legwand, and even Riley Sheahan filled that role at times last season, but none caused as much havoc as Homer once did. With Bertuzzi and Legwand departing, I wonder if the Red Wings will shift to a more puck possession-focused power play next season.

For the power play, I have to imagine the set up will stay the same, unless Mike Babcock devises some ingenious strategy over the summer involving newly re-signed Daniel Cleary. Here is what the top two power play lines will probably look like:

(Note: other signings and TRADES could change these lines below.)

First PP: Niklas Kronwall up top, Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Zetterberg on the half walls of the respective off wing, Pavel Datsyuk as the rover finding space and creating space, and Johan Franzen in the slot.

Second PP: Danny DeKeyser up top, Tomas Tatar and Brendan Smith on the half walls, Gustav Nyquist filling Datsyuk’s role, and Riley Sheahan in the slot. Stephen Weiss will also get some time in Sheahan’s role, as could Justin Abdelkader. It all depends on who is playing best at the time.

Now, on to the penalty kill. Woof.

We need improvement. Period. The strategy needs to improve in order to prevent goals. We have great players, but the positioning and assignments need adjustment.  The first thing that needs to happen is our defensemen need to be more physical down low. Boston’s defense hit our forwards enough that they won battles in the corner before they even begun. Intimidation goes a long way. Unfortunately, Kyle Quincey doesn’t scare anyone. Let’s take a look at who will most likely start the season on the penalty kill teams:

Forward pairings: Darren Helm and Drew Miller; Luke Glendening and Justin Abdelkader; Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson.

Defense pairings: Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson; Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff.

With Bill Peters gone and Tom Renney possibly accepting a role with Hockey Canada, Coach Babcock has the opportunity to add an assistant coach with a great special teams background. I heard Adam Oates is available.

Top 9: Best Swedes in Red Wings History

This season, the Red Wings were graced by the breakout of future star, Gustav Nyquist. Goose erupted after his promotion from Grand Rapids to lead the Red Wings in goals with 28. He bolstered the team’s offense with stars, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, out of the lineup.

Though he put up a solid campaign this year, Nyquist still has not scored enough points to crack the Top 9. He will surely be there next year though. There were a few names on the list ahead of him that I had never heard of. That feat itself is unheard of. Take a look at the Top 9 Swedes to ever play for the Red Wings and tell me you’ve heard of everyone.

9. Thommie Bergman– 65 points in 246 games.

Thommie Bergman

Photo courtesy of icehockey.wikia.com

8. Jonathan Ericsson– 68 points in 325 games.

Jonathan Ericsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

7. Dan Labraaten– 106 points in 198 games.Dan Labraaten

6. Mikael Samuelsson– 163 points in 308 games.

Mikael Samuelsson

Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

5. Niklas Kronwall– 295 points in 594 games.

Niklas Kronwall

Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

4. Johan Franzen– 347 points in 567 games.

Johan Franzen

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

3. Tomas Holmstrom– 530 points in 1026 games.

Tomas Holmstrom

Photo courtesy of Tim Sharp/AP

2. Henrik Zetterberg- 720 points in 759 games.

Henrik Zetterberg

Photo courtesy of AP

1. Nicklas Lidstrom– 1142 points in 1564 games.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek-NHLI-Getty Images

Friday Wish List

Ken Holland

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s finally Friday, which means it’s time for some fun.

The offseason is one of my favorite times of the year. I know, that’s strange for a Red Wings fan, but I enjoy the team management side as well. As the GM of the Red Wings, I have a few wishes for the offseason. The window for Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg is closing as they are getting older and more prone to injuries. I’d like to see at least one more Stanley Cup in their careers to cement their legacy with the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL.

The Red Wings have some obvious needs heading into the offseason. A scoring winger, top two defenseman, and some size would be nice. We can’t forget about a backup goalie either. Here are the priorities:

1. Sign a scoring winger to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, and Jarome Iginla would be expensive, but would solve the scoring issue.

Daniel Alfredsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

2. Sign a scoring winger or someone with size to play on a line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Daniel Alfredsson would be perfect to fill this role, as would Steve Ott or Ales Hemsky.

3. Move Stephen Weiss to right wing. He could play on any of the top three lines as a Justin Abdelkader-type player, using his grit and physicality to retrieve the puck. His offensive abilities could be utilized as well in this role.

4. Move Johan Franzen to center. He has stated that he loves playing center because of the added responsibility. What better way to motivate the Mule than give him extra responsibility on the ice. Gustav Nyquist could play left wing on his line. The right side could be occupied by Weiss, Abdelkader, a free agent acquisition, or someone acquired in a trade.

5. Make a trade. Great transition right? The free agent market is a little bare this offseason and the Red Wings need an impact player. Or two. Buffalo, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver could be trading partners.

6. Sign a depth defenseman with size for the penalty kill. None of our defensemen block shots and the penalty kill is awful. I am hoping Brian Lashoff can fill that role, but I would want a veteran defenseman either this offseason or at the trading deadline as insurance. Someone proven in this role would boost the penalty kill immensely.

7. Move Jakub Kindl for whatever we can get in return. Xavier Ouellet leapfrogged him on the depth chart during the playoffs and deserves a starting spot more so than Kindl. Trading Kindl plus a prospect or pick to the Islanders for Michael Grabner would be great. Grabner would fit perfectly with Sheahan and Tatar.

Petr Mrazek

Photo courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI

8. Promote Petr Mrazek to the team as the backup goalie. Unless we can sign Brian Elliott to a cost-effective deal, I think Mrazek has earned a full-time gig as the Red Wings’ backup tendy.

9. Not worry about Mike Babcock. He isn’t going anywhere.

 

What are your thoughts? What would you do as the GM for the Red Wings.

Can’t Forget About Detroit’s Restricted Free Agents!

Danny DeKeyser

Photo courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI

Detroit has three players on their NHL roster that are slated for restricted free agency, meaning that if any team offers a restricted free agent (RFA) a contract, the Red Wings can match it or let the player walk and receive compensation. The three players up for a new contract are Danny DeKeyser, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Tatar.

Of the three RFAs, I can only see Danny DeKeyser signing a long-term contract with the Red Wings at this point in time. I could see Detroit and DeKeyser agreeing to a five-year, $15 million contract this summer to lock him up for awhile. He would make more than Jakub Kindl’s $2.4 million per season on the open market and the Red Wings will pay him accordingly. Additionally, they could come to terms on a two-year, $4 million contract and work on another long-term deal when that contract expires and DeKeyser is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Expect DeKeyser to be taken care of this summer and contribute in the top four on defense next year with a new partner.

Riley Sheahan had a breakout year this year just in time for a new contract. He solidified the number two center job with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren Helm, and Stephen Weiss out with injuries at varying times this season. It is likely Sheahan (and Tatar) will sign a two-year deal this summer with the Red Wings. If I had to guess, he would receive around $1.5 million on average for those two seasons. It would be nice if Ken Holland and the Red Wings’ brass could keep Sheahan’s average cap hit closer to $1.2 million to spend the other cash elsewhere.

Finally, Tomas Tatar will also probably sign a two-year deal this offseason. His cap number will be higher than Sheahan’s and closer to $2 million per year. If the Red Wings are smart, they will sign him to a long-term extension after this next season. Tatar could potentially explode and command more than $4 million per season if he puts up 30+ goals and 60+ points. He could certainly do that if a big winger is added to his line in order to give him more time and space to shoot.

These three players will combine for approximately $5-6 million in cap space of the projected $20 million in cap room this offseason. It would be wise for the Red Wings to keep these salary low with Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, and Tomas Jurco all slated to become RFAs next season.

This will be a fun offseason.

Offense With and Without Henrik Zetterberg

Henrik Zetterberg

Photo courtesy of AP

Two goals in two games is not where the Detroit offense would like to be heading back to Detroit for Games 3 and 4. Although the Red Wings managed to win with only one goal in Game 1, they cannot win the series by winning three more games by that 1-0 score. Most every player has at least one thing to work on for Game 3, one simple solution fans are calling for is for Henrik Zetterberg to return to the lineup.

Zetterberg has been out since the Olympic Break following back surgery and has been skating with the team recently. Ken Holland previously said that Z (and Jonathan Ericsson) would be out for the first round and may be back for the second round. Fans are still hoping that they will make an appearance against Boston. I am one of those fans, but have reservation about Zetterberg returning possibly too soon.

Players play hurt in the NHL playoffs all the time. I’m positive that Zetterberg wants none other than to be out there with the guys and beat the Bruins. Team Doctors monitoring their patient and owners monitoring their investment may say otherwise. Zetterberg will return as soon as he can, but when exactly will that be? And when he does, what will happen?

Bad News (Bruins)-

  1. Too soon? Back surgery recovery is nothing to mess with. Zetterberg could not even get out of his bed after Sweden’s first game in Sochi. He was in a lot of pain before and needs to fully recover so nothing lingers.
  2. Bruins’ Defense. Boston features big, strong defense. Torey Krug may not fit that mold, but the rest do. Henrik likes to be a little physical while playing to get to the net. He will take a beating from Boston’s D that might aggrevate his back. Would it be worth it for Z to return for a few games, but hurt his back again?
  3. Someone comes out of the lineup. Who gets scratched if Zetterberg returns? Legwand? Miller? Jurco? If it was my guess, I would think David Legwand would be scratched first. Tomas Jurco had a great Game 2 and is playing a physical game against the big Bruins. He hasn’t done much offensively or on the power play, but neither have Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, or Daniel Alfredsson. Drew Miller may not be the most skilled player, but he has played well on the penalty kill. No matter who comes out, each has a reason to stay in and Mike Babcock will have a tough decision. The decision to play a healed Henrik Zetterberg is an easy one though.

Good News-

  1. More offense. Zetterberg’s return to the lineup obviously brings more offense. He won the Conn Smythe trophy in 2008 and almost led the team in scoring this season, despite missing nearly half of the games. His point-per-game scoring rate will help our sputtering offense immediately.
  2. Leadership. When a team sees their captain come back from injury and give his all, they will be inspired. The 2002 Red Wings did it for Steve Yzerman. It holds true for any level of hockey. When a captain returns to the lineup and shows more grit than anyone on the ice, the team will follow suit and play their hearts out for him. Z has that sort of respect in the locker room.
  3. Wake up others. Zetterberg’s return will create a competition to not be the one who is scratched. There are plenty of options at this point, so the boys will be on their game for Game 3. In addition, Zetterberg’s offensive skills will create room for others on the ice. It’s apparent when Pavel Datsyuk is on the ice that the Bruins leave others alone to neutralize him. In Game 2 when Datsyuk threw the nasty backhand sauce to a trailing Brendan Smith, the replay showed four Bruins within three feet of Datsyuk with two guys trailing wide open. Datsyuk can create offense and so can Zetterberg.

 

In the meantime, Detroit needs to learn to score and create offense against Boston without him. They have been doing it for most of the year anyway. If the Red Wings can dictate the pace, they can win and let Zetterberg rest up. Game 3 needs to be played like Game 1 for Detroit to go anywhere. Let’s see it, Red Wings.

Top 9: Odd Facts from the Regular Season

This past season has been a strange one by Red Wings’ standards. Injuries, new conference opponents, youth in the lineup, and a compressed schedule (because of the Olympics) have made the regular season a trying one at times. However, Detroit persevered and made the playoffs for the 23rd straight season. Before the Red Wings take on the big, bad Bruins on Friday, let’s take a look at the Top 9 odd notes from this season:

Mike Babcock

Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI

9. In a season marred by injuries and losing streaks, Mike Babcock passed both Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams to become the Red Wings’ all-time coaching wins leader. Babs finished the regular season with 415 wins in Detroit. Hopefully there will be many more wins added to that number.

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Richard Meek/SI

8. In his first season in Detroit, Daniel Alfredsson led the Red Wings with 49 points. He is the oldest player (41) to lead the Red Wings in scoring since Gordie Howe did it during the 1969-70 season. I’d like to see Detroit bring back Alfredsson for another season, but we will get to that once the playoffs are over and free agency and the draft are the priorities.

 

 

 

Daniel Alfredsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

7. Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall led the team with 49 points this season, though Alfredsson scored that many in fewer games that Kronwall. Their point totals were the lowest to lead the Red Wings in scoring since Joe Carveth led Detroit with 35 points during the 1945-46 season. Back then, teams only played 48 games in the regular season.

 

 

Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

6. Alfredsson and Kronwall’s 49 points is the lowest to lead Detroit in scoring in the Modern Era. No one has led Detroit with less points since teams began playing 70 games (or 80, or 82, or 84…) in the regular season. Players like Howe, Steve Yzerman, and Sergei Fedorov consistently scored more than 49 points. In fact, they usually hit the 49-point mark 49 games into the season (or earlier).

 

 

 

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports

5. On that note, Pavel Datsyuk scored 49 points last season…in 47 games. The Magic Man scored as many points as Detroit’s leaders this season in a lockout-shortened year last year. In addition, during the 1994-95 lockout-shortened season, both Fedorov and Paul Coffey bested 49 points each. Offense dipped this year, but it was spread out amongst many different players.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

4. Jimmy Howard‘s 21 wins are the lowest to lead the Red Wings since Glen Hanlon only won 15 for Detroit during the 1989-90 season. That was the last season before the playoff streak started. Injuries to the lineup, inconsistent play, and injuries to Jimmy himself prevented that number from being higher.

 

 

 

 

 

Gustav Nyquist

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings

3. Gustav Nyquist led Detroit with 28 goals this season. The odd fact about that was that he was not part of the opening night lineup. Nyquist started the year in the minors and played 15 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins before getting called up to the show. It was more of a salary cap move to keep Nyquist in the minors for so long, but the signings of Daniel Cleary during training camp and Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo the previous season to play over Nyquist was questionable then and now.

 

 

Tomas Jurco

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

2. The Red Wings had nine different players make their NHL debuts this season. Tomas Jurco, Luke GlendeningLandon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Mitch Callahan got a chance to crack the top-12 forwards, while Adam Almqvist, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, and Ryan Sproul made their NHL debuts on defense. So many rookies making cracking the lineup is certainly an oddity in Detroit, considering the Red Wings overdevelop their prospects and prefer to have veterans suit up over rookies.

 

Steve Yzerman

Photo courtesy of Mary Schroeder/Detroit Free Press

1. Detroit’s 39 wins this season is the lowest win total in a non-lockout-shortened season since the 1996-97 team finished the year with 38 wins. While losing sucks, I’ll gladly take 39 wins because the Red Wings happened to win the Stanley Cup in 1997 after the “subpar” regular season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statistics provided by hockeydb.com

Red Wings’ History vs. Eastern Conference

Igor Larionov

Photo Courtesy of Dave Sandford/Getty Images

It’s officially time for Detroit Red Wings playoff hockey. For the 23rd straight year, the Red Wings will attempt to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup. This year, however, there will be a new twist to the Red Wings’ pursuit: they are in the Eastern Conference now.

Detroit does have some recent experience against Eastern Conference teams though. They have played seven other current Eastern Conference teams since the streak began, though Columbus and Toronto were in the Western Conference when Detroit last played them in the playoffs. Let’s take a look at Detroit’s playoff experience against the Eastern Conference now that they are in the East and will have new postseason opponents.

  1. Pittsburgh- Detroit last played the Penguins in the 2009 Finals. We won’t talk about the results, but the Red Wings did beat the Penguins in the 2008 Finals. Those are the only two playoff matchups between the Red Wings and Penguins, with each team winning a series and a Cup in the process.
  2. Columbus- The Red Wings and Blue Jackets only met in the playoffs once. The 2009 sweep of the Blue Jackets was Columbus’ only playoff appearance until now.
  3. Carolina- Back in 2002, Carolina met Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals only to see Steve Yzerman lifting the Cup and Nicklas Lidstrom taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy. This was Carolina’s only playoff matchup against Detroit as either the Hurricanes or the Whalers.
  4. Washington- Team Ovechkin met the Red Wings in the 1998 Finals only to be swept in four straight. This Cup matchup against Detroit was the high point of the Pre-Ovie era and the only DC-Detroit playoff series.
  5. Philadelphia- Eric Lindros and the Legion of Doom took on the Red Wings in the 1997 Finals and got swept. Detroit took home the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years that season. This matchup was the only time Detroit and Philadelphia have met in the playoffs.
  6. New Jersey- We just were not ready yet. New Jersey swept Detroit in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals even though Detroit was heavily favored. This was the only time in each franchise’s history that they met each other.
  7. Toronto- Detroit and Toronto met in the first round of the 1993 playoffs. Detroit took a three-games-to-one lead in the series, but Toronto roared back to take the series. This was the 23rd time Detroit and Toronto met in the playoffs, with Toronto breaking an 11-to-11 tie in series wins that year.
  8. Montreal- In 1977, Montreal defeated Detroit in the Quarterfinals in five games. That was the 12th time the two teams met in the playoffs with the Red Wings owning a 7-5 series wins lead. The two teams could potentially meet in the second round this year.
  9. Boston- My dad was not even alive when the Red Wings and Bruins last met in the playoffs. The two met in the 1957 Semifinals, with Boston taking the Series in five. Boston has fours series wins against Detroit, with the Red Wings only winning three series against the Bruins. The Red Wings have an opportunity to tie the all-time series score with a win against the Bruins in the first round this year.
  10. New York Rangers- In the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Wings defeated the Rangers in seven games. Detroit has won four series, while the Rangers have only won once in their history.

Detroit has never played Buffalo, Florida, New York Islanders, Ottawa, or Tampa Bay in the playoffs. They could play the Lightning in the second round this year though.

Even though only the playoff series against Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Carolina are the only recent matchups with players still active, Detroit has had good luck against Eastern Conference foes. Their extensive playoff experience since the lockout will provide the essential “big game” mentality needed to make a playoff run, even if the Red Wings are the eighth seed. Additionally, the Griffins run to the Calder Cup last season with guys like Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, and Danny DeKeyser is crucial. Playoff and championship experience at any level will help with the nerves and put them in the right mindset come Friday.

Red Wings Gameday vs. Pittsburgh

Johan Franzen scores for the Red Wings

Photo courtesy of Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Tonight the Red Wings take on the Penguins in a playoff preview. Detroit and Pittsburgh will most likely be seeded seventh and second, respectively, in the playoffs in two weeks. There is still some hatred left over from the 2008 and 2009 finals and the two teams will try to set the tone for the matchup tonight.

Both Detroit and Pittsburgh have be riddled by injuries this season, but have had players returning the lineup recently. Pittsburgh is expected to have Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Olli Maatta, and Kris Letang back in the lineup tonight after missing time. It will be nice to see Letang back on the ice after suffering a stroke in January. It’s speaks to a hockey player’s toughness to overcome something like that, even if they do play for the Penguins. The Red Wings will look to find more chemistry in the lineup tonight heading into the playoffs.

Here are the expected lineups for tonight per DailyFaceoff:

DetroitDetroit Lines April 9, 2014

PittsburghPittsburgh Lines April 9, 2014

What to watch for tonight:

-Will Luke Glendening continue to get under the skin of Sidney Crosby and James Neal. Him shutting down Pittsburgh’s top forwards is crucial to winning tonight and the first round of the playoffs.

-Can Detroit’s penalty kill keep Pittsburgh’s power play off of the scoresheet. Minimizing penalties is one way to shut them down, but if the Red Wings take penalties, can their PK stop Crosby, Neal, Letang, Kunitz, and company?

-Can the Red Wings’ power play capitalize? 0-for against Buffalo isn’t very good and will need to be better against Pittsburgh. Power plays can win a playoff series.

-Can Mike Babcock keep ideal matchups against tonight? Pittsburgh will have home ice advantage and last change tonight and in the playoffs. Can the Red Wings match up well to shut down Pittsburgh’s offense, while providing offense of their own?

-Will Gustav Nyquist score? IT’S BEEN TOO LONG WITHOUT A GOOSE GOAL.

Check back tomorrow for a #tbt throwback to a huge trade that almost was.

 

Playing a Two-Way Game

Alex Ovechkin

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Alex Ovechkin is a polarizing figure around the NHL. No, he is not a Red Wing, but does have a place in this blog. Here’s why: Steve Yzerman was once in a similar situation as Ovechkin.

Throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, our beloved captain lit up the scoreboard, but the Red Wings never were legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup. They reached the Campbell Conference (Western Conference) Finals in 1987 and 1988 only to be eliminated quickly by the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers won the Cup both years because Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier could do anything they wanted on the ice. Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey (only in 1987), Craig Simpson, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, and Grant Fuhr also “contributed.” Detroit did not return to the conference finals until 1995.

In 1993, Yzerman was approached by newly-appointed coach Scotty Bowman. He wanted Yzerman to focus more on his defensive game in order to help develop the team. Bowman said the points would come, but not as often as they usually did. However, his contributions playing well in the defensive zone would more than compensate for the loss in production. Yzerman could have easily said no and continued to score at will. He reached 100 points in each of his previous six seasons.

Instead, Steve decided to focus more on the defensive side.

Steve Yzerman

Photo courtesy of AP

Now, the leader of the team and leading scorer was playing a more defensive style of hockey and it began to rub off on the rest of the team. Detroit continued to score as well. Sergei Fedorov and Ray Sheppard each had 50 goal seasons. Fedorov bought in as well and won the Selke Trophy that year. He would win it again in 1996.

Scotty Bowman taught superstar players that how to play defense and continue scoring, even if it was at a slower pace than they are used to. That has rubbed off on Red Wings players since then. Guys like Yzerman, Fedorov, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Keith Primeau, Dallas Drake, Slava Kozlov, and Martin Lapointe were on that 1993-94 Red Wings team that Scotty Bowman influenced. The next four years produced incredible results stemming from a defensive system. Detroit reached the finals in 1995, set a record for regular season wins in 1996, and won the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998.

All of those players are now retired. However, the way they played the game rubbed off on younger players. Last I heard, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were two of the best two-way players in the NHL. Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary also got a chance to play with Steve Yzerman and learn the ropes of defensive hockey. Now, guys like Gustav Nyquist, Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, and Tomas Tatar are all playing strong defensively (some more than others though).

Getting back to Ovechkin – he needs to change his style. As of this morning, he is -35 on the season with 74 points. He only has 38 points at even strength. That means that 73 goals have been scored while he has been on the ice. That number is absolutely absurd. He is a right wing, so his contributions to the defensive end may not be as crucial, but the problem is not the Caps defense, centers, and goalies. If someone is not covered in the defensive zone, everyone overcompensates to cover, often leaving their man. This scramble usually results in a goal against.

Will adopting a more defensive style work? Dale Hunter tried that a few seasons ago, but him and Ovechkin were often feuding and they did not advance far in the playoffs. Perhaps a change of players and management in DC will produce better results, even if Ovechkin’s numbers decline. Ask Steve Yzerman what meant more, three Stanley Cups or putting up 100 points every season? In a crazy hypothetical situation, I’m sure Yzerman would have had no problem refraining from scoring if it meant Stanley Cups in Detroit.

Thank you Scotty Bowman for changing the Detroit Red Wings culture to a more accountable one that continues today. Thank you Steve Yzerman for the selflessness that led Detroit to three Stanley Cups.