3 players that need to step up for the Detroit Red Wings before it's too late

The Detroit Red Wings need someone to step up during this rough stretch before it's too late.

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Not that long ago, the Detroit Red Wings were sitting pretty as the top wild card team with an eight-point lead in the race, but that gap has since evaporated thanks to a four-game losing skid. It's a shame because this current tailspin the Red Wings are on wipes away the six-game win streak that preceded it. Although the Red Wings still control the first wild card position, they are tied with Tampa Bay with 72 points but with a game in hand plus just a mere two points ahead of the surging New York Islanders, who sit third in the race with 70 points.

The Islanders have a game in hand on Detroit as of Saturday afternoon. This was never going to be easy for Detroit, but they didn't help themselves at all on Friday night, losing to the struggling Coyotes. It's one thing to lose at home to the Eastern Conference-leading Florida Panthers and then again to the high-powered Colorado Avalanche on the road. Still, it's unacceptable to continue the bleeding against a bad Arizona team that, hours before, sold off some of their better veteran players at the deadline. Before losing to Florida, the Red Wings lost a home tilt to the Islanders, who are nipping at their heels, but again, those teams are pretty evenly matched, so, at the time, it didn't feel as though the sky was falling like it does today.

If you ever wondered how much captain Dylan Larkin means to the Detroit Red Wings, I think we've got the answer. He may not be a 'top' center when compared to Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, or Nathan MacKinnon, but to this Detroit team, he's the heartbeat. The Red Wings don't perform well when he's absent, and this group endured a similar type of skid in December when he was out of the lineup, albeit Detroit was also missing David Perron and J.T. Compher as well. Again, I don't blame missing Larkin for the loss at Colorado, but he was very much missed in Arizona.

There are the obvious players that need to help shoulder the load with Larkin out. Of course, we expect Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Lucas Raymond to carry the mail with or without Larkin, but a few others need to find a way to elevate their game before it's too late.

The Detroit Red Wings need Andrew Copp to step up with Dylan Larkin out.

It's time we sent an S.O.S. out for Andrew Copp. The veteran center is one of the bigger disappointments in the Yzerman era as general manager. Copp, 29, signed a lucrative five-year deal that averages $5.625 million, but he hasn't been able to create much offense since joining the Red Wings.

Copp was signed to be Detroit's second-line center behind Larkin but has since fallen to the third group a year later after the off-season addition of J.T. Compher. During his first season with Detroit, Copp managed just nine goals and 42 points over 82 games. This season, Copp has totaled ten goals and 27 points in 62 contests. It's just not good enough. Copp does contribute in other ways, such as the penalty kill, and he's won nearly 53% of his faceoff attempts, but the Red Wings need more offense from the former Michigan Wolverine.

Copp hasn't had a shortage of scoring opportunities; he's just found himself with Darren Helm syndrome. Copp seems to get a plethora of great scoring chances but hasn't been able to finish at the rate we expect. The year before joining the Red Wings, Copp produced a 21-goal, 53-point season. Is that too much to ask? That type of production would considerably help this Red Wings team. Copp has totaled just three assists over his last 11 contests, averaging a touch of over 15 minutes per night.

Copp is expected to center recently recalled Jonatan Berggren and Daniel Sprong on Saturday night in Vegas.