Tweaking the top-six could create a much-needed spark for the Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings need Alex DeBrincat to find his scoring touch.
Nic Antaya/GettyImages
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Much has been made of Detroit's depth scoring this year, but when push comes to shove, the Red Wings need their star players to lead the charge. Depth scoring is nice and something the organization has been missing since its rebuild began, but like any team, it's difficult to survive in a wild-card race when the big guns are not firing on all cylinders.

The Detroit Red Wings have gotten substantial production from Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, and Patrick Kane for most of the season, including over the past couple of weeks as the playoff race has intensified. That said, we need to put out an S.O.S. for Alex DeBrincat. General manager Steve Yzerman acquired the 26-year-old sniper for these types of situations, but the Farmington Hills native hasn't been able to deliver on a consistent basis.

The Detroit Red Wings have 13 players with double-digit goals on the season; again, that's great, but when push comes to shove, the Red Wings need DeBrincat to be the player he was expected to be when Detroit added him to their top-six. DeBrincat has totaled 24 goals and 60 points this season over 77 games; not bad, but he's totaled just one goal over the past 19 games. One. That's not good enough. Over that span, he's recorded seven points and is a minus-6 while playing nearly 18 minutes per night. It's inexcusable and hard to explain.

The Detroit Red Wings need more from Alex DeBrincat if they hope to qualify for the postseason.

Looking at the other big three forwards, Larkin has recorded 13 goals and 21 points over his past 24 games and is a plus-6, playing nearly 20 minutes per night and excelling in all situations. Raymond has totaled 12 goals and 22 points over his past 25 games and is a plus-1. The 22-year-old star in the making is playing over 17 minutes per night. Last but not least, since joining the Detroit Red Wings, Kane has been the definition of consistency on the offensive side of things. Kane has totaled 14 goals and 30 points over his past 29 games with a near 18% shooting percentage and is a plus-1 over that stretch.

If you're wondering, the Red Wings still won the trade when they sent Dominik Kubalik and prospect Donovan Sebrango with a first and fourth-round pick to the Senators for DeBrincat, but he's gone ice cold when it matters most; it's disheartening. If you're wondering, Kubalik has totaled 11 goals and 15 points this season for Ottawa and is a minus-30 over 72 games.

Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde recently spoke about the two-time 41-goal scorer and how he needs to get more looks and the results should follow. “We need more looks,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said of DeBrincat. “Keep him around the looks. You got to keep getting those looks, and I think they’ll go in, and for the most part, he has. You can tell there’s probably some frustration in his game. Of course, a guy like that wants to score, but just keep getting looks.”

DeBrincat is saying all of the right things, but the results haven't followed. “It’s not always gonna go in the net for you,” DeBrincat said. “At this point of the season you gotta focus a lot of defense as well. Not gonna get too much.  Overall, I feel good about my game. I feel good overall. Honestly, I think I’ve played some good hockey.”

Lalonde continues to roll DeBrincat on a line with his buddy Kane, but both struggle in their own zone, especially working along the wall. With DeBrincat snakebitten, I'd like to see some adjustments made to create a bit more balance, especially on the road when Lalonde doesn't get the last change. Lalonde has skated Larkin between Raymond and Perron lately; perhaps sliding DeBrincat up with Larkin and Raymond as they were to begin the season wouldn't be the worst idea. Larkin can cover up some of DeBrincat's defensive zone deficiencies, and maybe playing with a more skilled center could once again unlock DeBrincat's scoring abilities.

That move would leave Perron and Kane to flank J.T. Compher. It's not an ideal second line, but Perron works the wall well, which should help with defensive zone exits as the combination of DeBrincat and Kane are often overmatched physically in their own end. Perron also performs well down low in the offensive zone and likes to rip those one-timers from the circle. Kane is Detroit's top playmaker and loves to feather those seam passes through wing-to-wing in the offensive zone. Maybe just tweaking the top six can create a much-needed spark. If these six can lead the way, the Detroit Red Wings won't have a chance to qualify for the postseason.

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