Feb 17, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock talks to his players during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Red Wings 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Fifteen Games In, Should Detroit Red Wings Fans Be Concerned?

Fifteen games into a shortened season, the Detroit Red Wings are sitting ninth in the West with a record of 7-6-2.

That doesn’t sound that good. But they are tied in points with Phoenix and Minnesota. Any win tomorrow night against Nashville would rocket them up to sixth. When has the Western Conference not been close in the points race?

With the loss on Sunday to Minnesota, the Red Wings have lost their last three games, one of them in overtime. That’s their biggest slump so far this season.

Wednesday evening, the Red Wings face their division rivals, the Nashville Predators, for the first time this season. The Predators are three points ahead of them, sitting in fifth place in the West.

So fifteen games into the season, as we sit on the outside looking in at the playoffs (assuming they started tomorrow), is it time to panic?

Not exactly.

While it’s easy to point to injuries bringing down the team’s productivity and consistency, it’s certainly a bit of a problem when the third and fourth lines of the roster are nearly all players called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins. A quick list of the injuries: Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Brendan Smith, Jan Mursak, and Carlo Colaiacovo. And that’s a shorter list of what it’s been.

With the return of Jonas Gustavsson as the backup to Jimmy Howard, the Red Wings will (hopefully) be able to give Howard a few games off. After all, he’s started all but two games and has been pulled in one with Gustavsson relieving him.

Of course, there are those players who are still disappointing us all to no end, namely Dan Cleary, who cannot decide on whether he wants to be known as Dan, Daniel, Danny, or Poochie, and Valtteri Filppula. Both have played in all fifteen games this season. Cleary has one point from the lone goal he has scored while Filppula has eight. Cleary has literally done nothing, and fans are outraged that he is still on the second line and the power play.

Filppula’s output is currently on pace with his usual output (perhaps a bit lower), but it’s nothing terrible. What’s so frustrating is that he has only scored three goals, he’s being pushed off the puck when he has it and he isn’t shooting anymore. How much he passes in a game has been something fans have struggled with for years, and it’s something that goes in phases. He’s in a bad phase, and it’s frustrating.

That is the keyword for this season so far: Frustration. Frustration at a lack of offense in some games. Frustration at no consistency. Frustration at the mounting injuries.

Final consensus: Let your panic attacks subside, at least for another few games. Reevaluate after this week, after the team has faced Nashville twice, Vancouver, and Columbus.

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