Before Game 6 Mike Babcock said that he didn’t have a good reason for removing Patrick Eaves from the Wings’ lineup. After last night’s lackluster performance by Detroit’s 4th line Babcock has good reason to put Eaves right back in the lineup for Game 7.
Babcock’s makeshift 4th unit of Todd Bertuzzi, Cory Emmerton, and Mikael Samuelsson were an uninspiring minus 1 across the board last night leading to speculation that the Wings are ready to make another change heading into Sunday’s series clinching game in Anaheim. Finding the right combination on their bottom line is especially critical for Detroit when you consider the Ducks’ 4th line has now outscored the Wings’ 4th line 10-1 through the first 6 games of the series.
Despite the fact that no player on either team played less than Emmerton in Game 6 at 7:52, it is almost assured that veterans Bertuzzi and Samuelsson are the only candidates to replace Eaves in the press-box tomorrow night.
The Wings’ major concern is that their 4th line continues to be exposed by the much younger and faster Ducks 4th trio. However, the addition of a fleet Patrick Eaves would go a long way in neutralizing the speed advantage for the Ducks.
Eaves’ versatility is another attractive quality for Babcock as he provides the Wings with 2 key attributes:
1. A defensively responsible forward who excels on the penalty kill.
2. An injection of speed and energy on the fore-check.
Predicting what Mike Babcock will do with Detroit’s lineup is never an easy task, but my gut feeling is that you will see Patrick Eaves replace Todd Bertuzzi on the Wings’ 4th line for Game 7. Eaves was able to raise his game the last week of the regular season when the playoff streak was on the line, and the Wings will need that kind of effort from him again tomorrow if they hope to pull off the first round upset over the Ducks.
Give us your thoughts.
Do you agree or disagree that Patrick Eaves has earned the right to dress for Game 7 tomorrow night? What should Mike Babcock do with the Wings’ lineup?