Detroit Red Wings: Derek Lalonde shuffling the deck looking for offense

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports /

Ahead of Saturday’s game at home against the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde will shuffle the deck, hoping to create some offense.

The Detroit Red Wings had a tremendous start to the season, leading the league in goals and power play percentage over the first couple of weeks, but things since have dried up. Detroit still sits fourth in the league with 40 goals for but ranks 20th in goals against, having allowed 33 to date. When things were going great, the Red Wings saw a power play conversation rate nearing 50%. Detroit’s power play has gone ice cold, and so have their victories. Detroit’s power play is currently in an 0-13 slump, having failed to score with the man advantage over a four-game stretch. Before the slump began, the Red Wings used their power play to roar back, scoring three power-play goals in the third period against Seattle at home only to fall short in overtime.

Following Friday’s practice, Lalonde gathered his troops and delivered a pep talk. The Red Wings are a much-improved team this year to last, but over the past couple of games, they’ve fallen into a rut, that same rut we’ve seen far too often over the past few seasons. They’ve got a chance to get back on track with a major victory at home Saturday against the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins.

"“I talked to the guys — maybe on the whole, when you look at our four games back, if you talk about the Boston game, that’s easy to evaluate because we just weren’t very good,” Lalonde said. “We didn’t have much compete. I don’t know if we were tired, I don’t know if it was a credit to them. But we weren’t very competitive. You look at the Islanders game — easy to evaluate, we were pretty good start to finish. Then you have two games — I’d put Winnipeg and [Florida] very similar. We’re not bad, we easily could have won both those games.“I just asked the guys to take a little more standard, a little more pride, in those types of games, and maybe try to find ways to flip them, or come out of it not accepting ‘an OK performance, but didn’t win.’ ”"

The Detroit Red Wings are shuffling the deck.

Through 11 games, Dylan Larkin leads the Detroit Red Wings with 15 points (4G, 11A), and Alex DeBrincat sits with a team-high nine goals (9G, 4A). DeBrincat, though, hasn’t recorded a point over Detroit’s last four games, and Larkin has totaled just one assist over the same stretch. These two forwards are the players that captain this ship named Detroit, and when they are not producing, this organization will find itself anchored, which is precisely what has happened over the past four contests.

Lalonde has elected to fire his players’ names into a blender ahead of Saturday’s game and will be moving Joe Veleno from the third-line center spot to the second-line wing alongside Andrew Copp and J.T. Compher. Veleno has had a hot stick of late and brings speed and creativity to that second unit. That move bumps Michael Rasmussen down to the third unit, where he will return to the middle of the ice where he started his career. Last year, Lalonde moved the 6-foot-6 forward from center to the wing, where he began to thrive. He will center David Perron and Daniel Sprong. The fourth line is expected to be missing Christian Fischer, who got banged up during Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Panthers. Lalonde mentioned they may call up a forward for the fourth line but also may operate with 11 forwards and seven defenders.

Lalonde also is mixing up the power play units. That first group will see David Perron remain as the net-front presence, Larkin in the bumper spot, DeBrincat on one flank, and now Lucas Raymond on the other flank with Shayne Gostisbehere on the point. Raymond moves up to the top group, and Moritz Seider will move down to the second unit. That second group will also consist of Sprong, Copp, Compher, and Jake Walman.

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I would still like to see the Detroit Red Wings work Rasmussen in on one of these units as the net front body. He’s got a large frame and pretty decent hands.