What's needed by Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde going into his third season?

Derek Lalonde has been the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings for 2 full seasons, let's break down what he needs to do for his part in the growth of the team.
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

It's no secret that the Detroit Red Wings fanbase is very split on head coach Derek Lalonde and whether or not he's fit for the role of head coach. While he has made some questionable decisions, I think people put a bit too much blame on him.

His systems on paper should work pretty well, however the D-core he was given wasn't equipped to perform those systems very well or constantly. A lineup that consisted of Shayne Gostisbehere, Jeff Petry, and Jake Walman wasn't a good recipe for making a defensive powerhouse.

Every player on the Red Wings defense was capable of defending, and Lalonde's systems were actually pretty simple and he was clearly passionate about the team. even if some fans don't notice. He has also been known to go to bat for his team when a bad call is made.

Lalonde needs to start rotating and sitting players

One of the biggest gripes Red Wings fans has had with head coach Lalonde was his apparent reluctance to hold players accountable for poor performances. Time and time again we seen veteran players like Petry, Olli Maatta, Daniel Sprong, and Austin Czarnik make mistakes that cost the team a goal or a chance against numerous times, yet Walman slumps a bit defensively and he's benched for multiple games. Then, Jonatan Berggren makes one or two mistakes and doesn't see NHL ice for the rest of the season.

Down the stretch, the Red Wings goaltending really suffered. This is in large part due to Lalonderiding Alex Lyon for several games straight. It seemed like James Reimer only got a start in every 5-6 games. Yes, Lyon was playing incredibly well and was the primary reason for the Red Wings getting a near 10-point lead of the eastern conference wild card race. However, playing a goalie who had a career high 14 starts (until this season), quickly becomes a recipe for disaster. For scale, Lyon started 43 games this season. That's 3 times more than his previous career high.

It doesn't stop at goaltending either, Justin Holl was more than capable of playing third pairing minutes and letting guys like Petry or Matta rest from time to time. Instead, he got paid $3.4 million sit in the press box for nearly 3/4 of the season.

Stop the line blender

Many of us who have been "in the trenches" remember the Jeff Blashill era. Every single night the lines changed and not a single player was ever on the same line for more than a few games in a row. While Lalonde isn't nearly as bad, he does have a bad habit of breaking up really good lines when he didn't really need to. Chemistry is a very big factor in nearly every hockey player's on-ice performance.

The 2 best Examples of line chemistry from last season are the top line of Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Larkin, and Lucas Raymond, then Michael Rasmussen, Andrew Copp, and Christian Fischer. The top line proved that they can score goals, like a lot of goals. Combined the line of DeBrincat/Larkin/Raymond had a total stat line of 91 goals 117 assists 208 points. Meanwhile, the Rasmussen/Copp/Fischer line or the "Grind Line" may not have had the same counting stats offensively, but they were effective. They were defensively sound and would grind down and tire down opposing players in all three zones. This all came from them playing together for an extended period of time. Allowing them to get a feel for each others play-style and in turn giving them the opportunity to adjust in real time.

I've never been on the "Fire Lalonde" train as he's only going into his third season as head coach and the team he's been given the last 2 seasons haven't been teams that would make any coach look very good. However, If he doesn't change some of the things that he does, then I could definitely see the 2024-25 season being his last season as the Red Wings head coach.

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