Derek Lalonde goes back to the blender hoping to find the perfect combination

The Detroit Red Wings amid a horrible six-game losing streak find themselves in a must-win situation ahead of Thursday night's tilt with the Arizona Coyotes.

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The Detroit Red Wings will return home on Thursday night to square off with the Arizona Coyotes following an awful road trip that extended their losing streak to six games. This, on the heels of a five-game win streak, had many of us feeling reasonably optimistic about the immediate future of the Red Wings as they trekked toward the postseason. Well, since the wheels have completely fallen off, and what once was an eight-point lead in the wild card race has been wiped away, Detroit firmly sits on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

During this rough patch. Well, let's call a spade a spade. During this disastrous stretch, the Red Wings lost Dylan Larkin to a lower-body injury. Larkin is expected to be re-evaluated this coming Saturday, but it seems as though Detroit will be forced to tread water without their engine at least through this coming weekend. So, it's Arizona on Thursday, Buffalo on Saturday afternoon at home, and then a game in Pittsburgh on Sunday evening. All three feel like must-win contests for the Red Wings, but at a minimum, this club needs to find a way to win two of these next three if they hope to stay afloat.

Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde has once again fired names into the blender, hoping to create a spark with a mix-and-match lineup.

“Some different looks,” Lalonde said. “Maybe giving a little different feel to some different lines. Maybe a little more grittier, something a little different. A situation like this is an opportunity to blend it up a little bit, and that’s what we did.”

On Thursday morning, the Detroit Red Wings recalled center Austin Czarnik from Grand Rapids to center the fourth line. The transaction moves Christian Fischer to the wing, and sharp-shooter Daniel Sprong goes to the press box. Sprong has enjoyed a fruitful offensive season, having scored 16 goals and 39 points over 65 games this season, but as he proved in Buffalo on Tuesday night, he can be a liability more often than not during even-strength play.

So, in Ansar's post above, insert Czarnik between Fischer and Jonatan Berggren. The lineup seems much more balanced, with Lucas Raymond, Alex DeBrincat, and Patrick Kane scattered throughout the first three lines. Also, Ben Chiarot moves up to play with Moritz Seider; it's not a horrible idea, but playing Shayne Gostisbehere and Jake Walman together is a choice. There is a lot of offense in that pairing, but there are a lot of defensive risks that come with it. Olli Maatta and Jeff Petry might actually work as a 15-16 minute third pairing at home where they can be matched up properly.

General manager Steve Yzerman recently preached team defense as the main area the Red Wings need to focus on during the season's final stretch if they hope to qualify for the postseason. Swapping Czarnik with Sprong is swapping offense for defense. Czarnik is a reliable 200-foot player with limited scoring upside. Still, with Larkin out of the lineup, the Red Wings are clearly looking for another responsible center and are willing to part with some depth scoring in return.

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