The Detroit Red Wings’ defense core has been a weak spot as of late. They have continued to lose pieces to injury, with Robert Hagg being sent to the Injured Reserve (IR). Olli Määttä was also placed on the IR retroactively with a non-COVID illness.
The team also may be without Filip Hronek after he was placed in concussion protocol after the hit by Ryan Reaves in Wednesday night’s loss to the Wild. But one of the players who has taken a step in the right direction is defenseman Jake Walman.
I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Walman had been underwhelming in his Red Wings tenure. The lack of offense and initial fight to remain on the third pairing had me convinced he could be written off.
However, Walman has changed my perception of him with the way he has performed in recent games. He may not be registering points on the scoresheet, but with a thin defense core, Walman has stepped things up.
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jake Walman has stepped up his performance.
In 2022-23, Walman has played in 12 games for the Red Wings, with just one goal to his credit. He is a plus-seven as well. He may not have the most appealing stats on the scoresheet, but his defensive efforts are what caught my eye.
He’s been winning puck battles behind the goal line and along the boards in the defensive zone. He even got some powerplay time with Hronek being out, and while he’s not my top choice, he at least was able to fill the role and lock things down at the top of the zone.
Walman’s physicality has also helped the Red Wings. He was the player who stepped up to Reaves after the Hronek hit. While he should have dropped the gloves and looked for a fight, he at least confronted him and got in his face, more than can be said for other Red Wings players.
The 26-year-old defender has a 50/50 split in terms of offensive and defensive zone starts but has shined defensively as of late. He has a 48.8 Corsi For percentage, which is 1.8% below the team’s average.
There’s room to be better, but that’s why he’s slated to be a third-pairing defender. But it seems Walman is stepping up his performance in the last week or so of games. With a thin defense core due to injuries, Walman is rising to the occasion.
Hopefully, Walman can continue to perform this well and help the Red Wings’ defense core keep itself afloat. It has to happen if the Red Wings want to remain in the hunt for the playoffs, a tall ask in itself without Dylan Larkin.