Red Wings Organization Grade: Yzerman and Blashill

Steve Yzerman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Steve Yzerman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Lineup Decisions

This was a category that many fans had qualms with all year. A few healthy scratches had fans shaking their heads: Evgeni Svechnikov (often) and Troy Stecher were the most perplexing.

Special teams also had some rough lineups: Filip Hronek failed miserably as a power play quarterback, and the end of the season saw players like Valterri Filppula receive decent ice time on the power play (To be fair, this was due to injuries).

Blashill’s strength in lineup decisions was defensive pairs. For a team that actually had a league average 5v5 defense, the pairings were the key to success. Staal-Stecher found plenty of  defensivesuccess, and Merill-Nemeth provided a comfortable bottom-pairing. A few times, the team also opted to run with an additional defensemen, opting for the 11 forwards and seven defensemen lineup. For all the shellacking Blashill received for his forward lineups, his defensive pairings were silently good.

C+. You can’t make something out of nothing. Lineup decisions were not going to change this team much; while leaving Svechnikov in the dust hurt, it ultimately didn’t mean almost anything to the wins and losses column. Also important to note: Steve Yzerman said straight up in his press conference that he was in close communication with Blashill throughout the entire season. These healthy scratches and lineup changes weren’t just subject to the whims of Blashill, they had the approval of the organization. While some of the offensive lines were (rightly) criticized, the solid choices for defensive pairings went unnoticed most of the season: those kind of decision <em>are </em>important, and Blashill ultimately made them. The putrid special teams lineups drag the grade down a bit, but hopefully the absence of Dan Bylsma will change this next season.. . Detroit Red Wings. LINEUP DECISIONS