Detroit Red Wings have had trouble playing consistent recently. In the past two weeks, they were drummed by the St. Louis Blues, beat the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, lost to the Florida Panthers, after having a two goal lead, and were beaten again, this time by the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Red Wings are currently icing a team with an average age of 26.9, which is severely offset by the ages of Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Cleary, and Niklas Kronwall; who are the only players over the age of 30 currently playing. Without adding them in, the average age of the other 15 players on the ice drops two years down to 25 and that can account for a lot of the inconsistency.
When you have a young team without a lot of NHL experience there are going to be mistakes, which will lead to missed opportunities and breaks for the opposition.
A perfect example of the defense breakdowns that can happen with a young team is the first goal from the Red Wings loss to the Panthers.
Danny DeKeyser was covering his man and thought he had help from Luke Glendening on the far side of the ice, but Glendening lost Sean Bergenheim and it ended to being a goal for the Panthers. When a player is not completely familiar with the defensive positioning he is supposed to be in, there will be openings that can be taken advantage of by the opponent.
The Red Wings are relying on these players to produce offense and while they have produced 15 points in the past five game for Detroit, they are either on their game or they are floundering.
Against the Flyers, Tomas Tatar tried, unsuccessfully, to enter the zone against four Flyers and ended up losing the puck before he was able to get the puck deep, which ended Detroit’s rush and led to the Wings spending more time in their own zone.
In fact the Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco line was a minus two during the game against the flyers and ended up being split up before the third period began. When the line is good they can make a difference on the ice for the Red Wings, but when they are off their game it clearly causes issues down the whole line-up.
Even Gustav Nyquist has gone through his struggles this season, until he exploded back onto the scene last week and was named the NHL’s second star of the week, and seems to be suffering through a sophomore slump. Through the slump, it looks as if he is having a case of the Valtteri Filppula-s.
By having a case of the Filppula-s, I mean that he looks for the perfect pass at times that it would be a better idea to shoot the puck. Shooting the puck does not mean he should be looking to score, but rather use the goalie to his advantage in order to create a rebound out front. The Red Wings need him to shoot the puck consistently and rank higher in the shots on net totals than he currently ranks, which is behind Kyle Quincey.
What these young players need to do is focus on the basics and simplify their game because if they can do that they will once again be a force to be reckoned with. But if they continue to force plays and get more complex things will get worse for Detroit.
Even though having a bunch of young players on the team can cause inconsistency, it helps them grow more as players and can have a big impact on the team next season.
So while the inconsistency can be troubling for us as fans, in the end it will pay off next season when the younger players make the full jump to the NHL.