Detroit Red Wings' dust-up at practice is probably a good thing

The Detroit Red Wings need a spark, a minor altercation during Wednesday's practice might just do the trick.

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Veteran defenseman Ben Chiarot and surging 21-year-old forward Lucas Raymond had a little confrontation during Wednesday's practice. Still, it might not have been the worst thing amid the Detroit Red Wings' current six-game losing streak.

Jeanna Trotman of WXYZ Detroit captured the footage of the minor scuffle. Chiarot and Raymond got tangled up during a drill, and tempers flared. Things didn't get out of hand, but Chiarot did pull Raymond's helmet off. As the two were separated by teammates, Raymond threw a bit of a right hook in Chiarot's direction, but thankfully, it missed the mark.

As you'd expect, social media (for the most part) overreacted the way you'd expect. This isn't the worst thing, folks. As Patrick Kane mentioned, following practice, if this group was all smiles on Wednesday during practice, we should be more concerned. I don't know exactly what sparked this altercation, but it's not uncommon for things to get heated during a hard NHL practice every now and then. This group is frustrated about this current six-game slide that has them suddenly on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. It's crazy to think that just two weeks ago the Red Wings had a comfortable eight-point lead in the wild card race only to see things crumble.

Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde mentioned that defensive breakdowns we've seen over the past few games, more in Buffalo, shouldn't be happening this time of year. He mentioned Detroit has given up easy offense and struggled with defensive zone coverage. While Lalonde is absolutely correct, who is to blame for this lack of coverage?

Lalonde said they’re committing “continuous mistakes” and “giving up easy offense.” Defensive breakdowns that shouldn’t be happening this time of year,” Lalonde said. “I think it’s a little bit of everything. I think it’s coverage but I think it’s puck play, too, that’s giving them some easy offense.”

The Detroit Red Wings need a spark.

The Red Wings deploy a veteran group of defenders; this should not be an issue. Is it coaching? Is it player management? Is it a lack of player focus or execution? Maybe a little bit of everything? I am not going to overreact and suggest firing Lalonde should even be considered, but something needs to happen. Bob Boughner, a former NHL defenseman and head coach, runs the Red Wings defense; perhaps Lalonde needs to have a difficult conversation with his assistant coach. If it is deemed a personnel issue, that is on Steve Yzerman. Lalonde can only roll out the players he has at his disposal, so his options are limited.

Yzerman traded for Jeff Petry and signed Justin Holl to an awful three-year deal this past summer that averages $3.4 million annually. Shayne Gostisbehere is a niche sixth-type defender who excels head-manning the power play but is a liability during even-strength situations. Jake Walman, although he's a fan favorite, takes too many games/shifts off and, although he has shown flashes of being a top-pairing defender, can be equally detrimental to Moritz Seider's game at times with his ill-advised offensive risks and often being outworked in the defensive zone.

And while Chiarot has performed better this season, there are still far to many holes in his game of late. It's like he's drastically regressed over the past two weeks; hopefully, this heated battle in practice wakes a bunch of these guys up ahead of their home tilt on Thursday night against the lousy Arizona Coyotes. If there was ever a time to shake things up, it's right now. Perhaps Detroit should recall Simon Edvinsson and scratch Petry in an attempt to send a message. Of course, the Red Wings will need to clear a roster spot so maybe place Holl on waivers? Something needs to be done.

The Red Wings certainly miss their captain, but there is more to it than that. Dylan Larkin is Detroit's engine; he's their best player, but even he wouldn't make up for seven goals against which occurred Tuesday night in Buffalo. I know it sounds like I am beating a dead horse, but for the third straight summer, Yzerman needs to find a better second-line center to pair with Larkin if this organization hopes to take the next step forward in its rebuild. This issue won't be resolved within the organization, either. Well, I should say that the 'immediate' resolution won't come within the organization. Sure, Marco Kasper and Nate Danielson have the potential to eventually become top-six forwards, but the Red Wings need this type of impactful center now, not in five or six years.

Kane weighed in on what the Detroit Red Wings need to do on Thursday night when they return home with their backs against the wall. “Effort level, compete,” Kane said. “I think when you outwork when you out-compete your opponent, you increase your chance of winning that game. It just hasn’t been there for us. I thought we had a good effort in Vegas. We just haven’t really had that consistently. There are different ways to do it. It’s not just hitting guys or winning battles. It’s hanging on to pucks, making it harder for the other team to play. Not being on our heels all the time. Hopefully, we can attack tomorrow and find a way to get something positive going.”

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