With Henrik Zetterberg‘s chances of missing the rest of the season following the aggravation of a herniated disk, the Red Wings can see the glass both ways- half empty, and half full. The cup is half empty because they just lost their play-making, goal-scoring, head-turning bearded beauty of a captain for possibly the most important regular season stretch in decades. However, along with injury comes cap space, and a team finding itself in and out of slumps all season always welcomes new life in search of a spark. Riley Sheahan has been a regular, and Cory Emmerton, Teemu Pulkkinen and Adam Almquist look to join him.
Sheahan has been a stud for the team in his 18 games for the team, notching 3 goals and 8 assists in that time, but his play goes beyond those stats. He adds grit and determination to a Wings offense that seemed passive earlier in the season. He’s a young forward who isn’t afraid to drive the net and get to the dirty areas, and along with Luke Glendening, he can pester any defense in the league.
Cory Emmerton has seen play with the Wings in past seasons, but has been a regular in Grand Rapids as of late. In his time with the Griffins this season, Cory has 31 points in 36 games, and 2 points in 11 games in Detroit. Hopefully Emmerton can channel some of his AHL production in Hockeytown, because if he wants to stay, he has to contribute to filling the hole left by Zetterberg.
A big reason the Wings have slumped so horribly this season is the consistency of the defense. Adam Almquist looks to be a catalyst in developing some defensive might, and possibly a bit of offensive production as well. With an incredible sense for the game, he is a smart defenseman that can read plays at a veteran level, and can be a trustworthy force at the blue line on the powerplay. He stands a bit small at 5’11″ and 174 pounds, but his smarts can suffice, and who doesn’t want another Swede on the team?
Last but not least, Teemu Pulkkinen, a dangerous forward-to-be. The 2011 pick has a whizzing shot and can hit any spot in the net. This left-winger will be a strong asset to any line he’s placed on. Teemu was suspended in the preseason due to a boarding incident, and we did not get to see much of his talent because of it. The Wings will appreciate any offensive prowess they get, and as long has he doesn’t slam anyone into the boards too hard, he may find his groove in the Motor City.
It will be interesting to see the placement of these players on the roster. Stephen Weiss is expected to return after the Olympics, but with Zetterberg’s injury, he won’t be the cause of the movement of any players. Sheahan is also returning to the spot he occupied before the break. Time will tell where the rest fit in, as a few players will have to be scratched or sent down for them to make an appearance. Almquist could see time in place of Jakub Kindl or Brian Lashoff, who have alternated scratches for most of the season. Emmerton and Pulkkinen will be displacing a couple forwards as well, and fans must be hoping that coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland can put the pieces together and create a playoff-contending team once again.