Detroit Red Wings: The Calming Presence of Niklas Kronwall

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 06: Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings shoots the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on November 6, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Wings defeated the Canucks 3-2 in a shoot-out. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 06: Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings shoots the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on November 6, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Wings defeated the Canucks 3-2 in a shoot-out. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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As the roller coaster season trecks on for the Detroit Red Wings, one thing remains the same.  Niklas Kronwall is consistently a calming presence for the club who hails in Motown.

It has been indeed an up and down season for the Detroit Red Wings, to say the least.  Early in the season the Wings played well, played hard but couldn’t buy a win through their first few games.

Then the wheels fell off in back to back games against the Montreal Canadians and Boston Bruins.  The Wings would be blown out in both contests.  It totaled seven games without a win before they found a 4-3 overtime victory in Florida, besting the Panthers.

Since the underwhelming start to the season, the Wings have won six of their last seven games.  They have accomplished a little bit of history over the weekend.  In all of the tremendous, rich history of the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in franchise history, the club won three consecutive games when trailing by two or more goals during the contest at some point.

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It shows the fight within the organization, in years past and teams past they would get behind early and you would know as a fan watching that the game was out of reach.  They didn’t have that desire to claw back especially late in games.

Niklas Kronwall has provided that calming presence from the backend for the Wings.  He answers all the questions at the conclusion of each game.  He owns the teams misfortunes, lack of effort and embraces the fight the team displays.  When things weren’t going well, he was upfront and blunt about the lack of effort.

The 38-year-old veteran defenceman knows that this team is not a Stanley, Cup contender.  He knows this isn’t a playoff team, yet he still competes hard each and every night.  Kronner has been paired with rookie Dennis Cholowski of late, and the steadiness and calming presence of Nik is rubbing off on the rookie.

Cholowski jumped onto the scene for the Red Wings and hadn’t looked back.  The kid was a fringe player coming into camp, expected to start in Grand Rapids.  He bi-passed that stop and passed go, collected his money and landed right in Detroit.

Kronwall & Green were both injured early on leaving the defense core in shambles.  Cholowski started with DeKeyser until he was also sidelined for 9 games with a hand injury.  When Greener was able to return to the lineup, Cholowski was pair with him.

The two provided great mobility on the backend.  They are both offensive-minded defencemen.  The downfall was being too mediocre in their own end.  The pair would often find themselves chasing and trying to make up for the lack of defensive zone coverage.

Since it seemed to be happening much to often, Jeff Blashill made a change.  He paired the young Cholowski with the team leader Niklas Kronwall.  Kronner needs to play with someone much more mobile than he.  Kronner at 38 isn’t precisely fleet-footed, to begin with, but he also has that chronically lousy knee.

The two have been playing as the Detroit Red Wings third pairing during 5 on 5 actions, but both see time on the power play, and Kronner sees time on the PK.  Cholowski can use this season as a significant learning experience by playing with Kronner.  It is a pairing to keep tabs on as the season moves forward.  The growth of Cholowski in the defensive zone is essential; we already see his offensive abilities.

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If this is indeed the farewell tour from Nik, it doesn’t have to be a “wasted” season.  He was a lot of knowledge and leadership to provide to the young Detroit Red Wings.  Kronner is averaging 19:09 TOI a game, he has 3 points all assists through his first 15 games of the season.