The Detroit Red Wings are currently on a four game losing streak, outscored 16-6 in that stretch – depth scoring is an issue for this squad.
Last season, there were a few bottom-sixers that stepped up when the top lines faltered. Adam Erne was especially impressive, leading the team in goals (tied with Anthony Mantha) with 11 and tacking on nine assists. Sam Gagner even had the occasional offensive showing, highlighted by his hat trick against the Nashville Predators. Now, that’s not to say that the offensive depth on the squad was good – far from it. There were just moments where unexpected performances were able to power the team to victory.
Through 11 games, the Wings just have not had a depth player step up yet.
Heading into this season, it looked like the depth had taken steps in the right direction. The second line looked especially solid – centered by newly acquired Pius Suter with Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina on the wings. The three had great preseasons. Suter and Fabbri tied for second in points scored, and it looked line the second line was developing some chemistry.
But the regular season has been a different story. The top line is dragging along the offense along. Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond and Tyler Bertuzzi sit comfortably at the top of team scoring (along with Moritz Seider). Zadina and Fabbri haven’t been terrible – both have five points a piece so far. But Suter has been very disappointing. The center has only nabbed two assists in 11 games.
When asked to shoulder the load, the depth has completely fallen apart. When missing either Bertuzzi or Larkin, the team has struggled to produce anything offensively. Thursday’s loss to the Bruins was especially rough – the Wings put up a paltry 15 shots on goal. They are winless in their three trips to Canada thus far, missing their leading goal-scorer, Bertuzzi.
There is plenty of time left for those among the middle-six and bottom-six to prove me wrong. 71 games are left in the season and Detroit has shown flashes of offensive competence. The second line will be especially important in the trajectory of this team. If the Fabbri-Suter-Zadina combo continues to struggle, it is going to be a long season.