Defenseman Filip Hronek played 25.09 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on opening night. He played 23:23 against the Vancouver Canucks two nights later. In the Red Wings’ third and fourth games this season, he played 23:13 and 20:26, respectively, against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames.
In the Red Wings’ fifth game in Montreal, he played zero minutes. He was a healthy scratch. Coach’s decision. Same story in their sixth game in Chicago Sunday.
“Any message that I share with Fil will be kept between me and the player,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I don’t feel any reason to have public comment or any of that stuff.”
“Ultimately we have a lot of good players, and too many in terms of a depth situation, to play every night,” Blashill said. “So different guys are going to end up out of the lineup. That’s just a reality of life. ”
That leaves everyone guessing to what this is all about. Here’s what we know: Hronek hasn’t been at the top of his game since the season started. He hasn’t been a difference-maker. His Corsi rating was 39.9. A Corsi rating above 50 means the player’s team is controlling the puck most of time when he is on the ice. Hronek’s career Corsi is 47.9.
The timing of the Hronek benching worked for Blashill because he had talked about finding some playing time for defensemen Troy Stecher and Jordan Oesterle. Stecher replaced Hronek in the lineup. Oesterle still has not played.
But all of this is speculation. The media does not know why Hronek has been benched, nor do we know when he will play again.
Filip Hronek is Important to Red Wings’ future
What else we do know is Hronek is 23 and a player who is considered to be part of the rebuild. This summer, the Red Wings gave Hronek a three-year deal worth an average of $4.4 million.
Blashill wouldn’t bench Hronek without discussing this with general manager Steve Yzerman. They talk daily about what’s happening with the team.
That’s important to factor in when you analyze what is happening. Some fans believe that Danny DeKeyser should have been benched before Hronek because he was playing worse. DeKeyser has a 33.6 Corsi and has been a minus player for four consecutive games. The team has an .870 save percentage when he is on the ice.
But when analyzing this situation keep in mind that DeKeyser is 31 and isn’t considered a player who will be with the team when it is ready to contend. DeKeyser is also part of the Red Wings’ leadership. He contributes off the ice as well as on the ice. He’s going to be an unrestricted free agent and may not be with the team even next season.
The Red Wings are far more invested in trying to make Hronek a better player than DeKeyser. They may be benching Hronek as a means to get him to make improvements. The Red Wings view him as critical to their future. This may be a teachable moment. But we may never know that.
The next Red Wings’ game is Wednesday in Washington. Hronek will have a couple of practices to get back in Blashill’s good graces.