pulkkinen

Red Wings’ MASH Unit

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Carlos Osorio/AP.

It is expected that Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson will return to the Red Wings’ lineup today after missing time. Alfredsson only missed one game and Datsyuk has been out since the Winter Classic for the most part. It’s great that the team is getting healthy in time for the playoffs, but one thing I wonder is what if the team was completely healthy this season?

Generally speaking, teams like Anaheim, Boston, and Colorado have all had decent luck when it came to injuries this season, though no team can make it through the season completely unaffected by injuries. What if Detroit had that same luck? What if Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Ericsson, Stephen Weiss, and Darren Helm had been healthy and played around 70 games up to this point?

Could today’s lineup look like this instead?

Lineup

 

What are the consequences of having a healthy team?

  1. Tired players- Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Alfredsson, and Todd Bertuzzi are getting up there and need rest to be at the top of their games. If they had played an entire season, would they be fresh for the playoffs?
  2. Nyquist’s development- Gustav Nyquist would not have been thrust into the spotlight without the injuries to key players. He may not have even been called up as soon as he was. Would he be on the same current hot streak?
  3. The Kid Line’s chemistry and progress- The line of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Jurco would have never gelled and become the offensive force it is now. Maybe “offensive force” is too strong, but the line produces. Tatar would have played third line with minimal power play ice time, while Sheahan and Jurco would still be in Grand Rapids.
  4. Early ice time for young players- Would Sheahan, Jurco, Luke Glendening, Mitch Callahan, Adam Almquist, Landon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen, Xavier Ouellet, or Alexey Marchenko crack the Red Wings’ lineup this year? Their playing time this season was incredibly valuable to their development.
  5. No Legwand- This is a toss up. David Legwand has certainly helped the Red Wings spark their offensive and has found some chemistry at times with Franzen and Nyquist. I highly doubt Detroit would have acquired him if Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Weiss, and Helm weren’t all injured at the Trade Deadline. Unfortunately for Detroit, Calle Jarnkrok has been playing well for Nashville and is showing signs that he will develop into the top-six talent Red Wings’ scouts pegged him as. Patrick Eaves was a great penalty-killer in Detroit, but did not have much of an impact otherwise (besides a few shootout goals).

At this point, are these injuries hurting the team or a blessing in disguise?

NHL Experience for Red Wings Prospects

With all the injuries to the Red Wings this season, more than a few prospects are getting a shot at playing in the show. Injuries to captain Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Joakim Andersson, Todd Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, the octopus, Joe Louis himself, and the popcorn vendor have opened the door for young talent to fill their shoes…or skates. Get it?

Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro, Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening have all gotten a chance to show their skills in the Red and White. Guys like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have not only made the team this year, but have been thrust into prominent roles and performed admirably. Side note: Tatar and Nyquist should have been in the top 12 forwards all season.

As of 3/23, Sheahan has five goals, 13 assists, and 18 points with a plus-one rating. He has centered what has become Detroit’s second line and played strongly at both ends of the ice.

Luke Glendening has been one of Detroit’s top penalty killers, while providing a spark for the Red Wings’ fourth line. Due to injuries, he moved up to the third line at times. Glendening has earned Mike Babcock’s trust for penalty killing, defensive zone faceoffs, and shutting down opponents’ top players.

Jurco has contributed ten points playing on the “Kid Line” with Sheahan and Tatar before breaking ribs earlier in the month. His saucy paws are getting some valuable experience playing in Detroit before he was expected to crack the lineup.

Other prospects have gotten a chance in the Red Wings lineup, but have not played as much as the guys mentioned above. Landon Ferraro got a chance on the fourth line and even got a chance in the PK rotation, but was sent down for Mitch Callahan today (3/24). Teemu Pulkkinen appeared sparingly in three games, but got a chance to play the point on the second power play unit. Petr Mrazek has gotten in a few games with Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson each missing some time throughout the season. Adam Almquist, Xavier Ouellet, and Alexey Marchenko have all gotten a shot on defense this season.

Even though most of these guys will not be in the list of 23 players who make the team next year, this experience is great for their development. The extra confidence gained from playing high-stake NHL games will greatly improve their game and help them develop into the players Ken Holland, Jimmy Devellano, and the scouts envisions when they drafted or signed these players. It’s rare for the Red Wings to play so many young players, so they should take advantage of the playing time and soak in what is is like to don the Winged Wheel.