A little pre Super Bowl matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers, which will be their third matchup in eight days. Both teams are diametrically opposed to one another—the Red Wings come in on an eight game losing streak while the Panthers arrive on an eight game winning streak. In the first two contests last week, the Panthers won a pair of 3-2 games. Head coach Jeff Blashill said it’s all about being in the present and “learning from yesterday.”
I’m not being snarky or sarcastic when I say his opening answer is a great outlook on not only sports but life. I really do like Jeff Blashill–I have since he was coaching as an assistant and then went to the Griffins and won a Calder Cup. Some of his decision making, though, has been frustrating, especially in regards to lineup decisions, deployment, and the horribly inefficient power play. But let’s take that philosophy, learning from yesterday, and apply it to now.
What needs to be done
The safe play approach that the Red Wings have been applying during this losing streak has been one of the reasons they continue to lose. Rarely does it feel like Detroit carries the play, but instead, reacts to the play. Watch how Filip Zadina makes the initial pass, moves, receives the pass and then fires on net–instead of waiting or trying to make another “cute” pass.
Read and react should be the mantra for this team going forward. Now onto how they can use yesterday to make today and the future better.
Make the right lineup choices
If Detroit really is going to “learn from yesterday”, let’s use the Wings’ success of nearly 30 years ago as the starting ground. I’ve been beating this drum for awhile now and so have many online. It’s time to let the best players play. Enough of Frans Nielsen and company. Throw those kids out there and see what
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they bring. Matthias Brome, Givani Smith, and Michael Rasmussen should all be getting minutes as they are critical pieces now and in the future–especially if this rebuild morphs into contention.
If you look back at those dominant Red Wings teams from the 90’s, they built around the core of Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov, and then developed and moved the younger, ready players into the mix. Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty reached their prominent roles for the Stanley Cup contenders after experiencing their bumps in the road early on. I get that the ’94 Wings were in a different place, but you still had McCarty (21 years old) and Draper (22 years old) growing into their roles. They were not high draft picks. They were role players who would play critical minutes during crucial games down the stretch. It’s time to take the long view. For more evidence, here are the dividends:
The Red Wings tenth overall pick in 1991, fed the player acquired for a $1 to win one of the best Stanley Cup Final games I’ve ever seen. LaPointe was 20 in 1994. He played 50 games.
Practice what you preach: Learn from yesterday.