The Detroit Red Wings are into a skid. It’s dangerous close to getting out of control, sending the 2021-22 NHL season off a cliff.
Is there a ready-made solution at hand? Probably not.
If anything, Detroit’s 4-2-1 launch to the season disguised the reality that the Red Wings aren’t anywhere near yet to being a club that’s ready to even take up residence among the league’s middle class.
They’ll be seeking to put a halt to an 0-3-1 slide with weekend games against both parties in the Jack Eichel trade, the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights.
Is there a long-term to solution to this ongoing virus that’s afflicted the Red Wings for the better part of a decade?
Yes there is, and it could be as simple as this:
More Yzerman. Less Holland.
Yzerman Supplying Hope
There are two bright spots in the Detroit lineup thus far this season. They also happen to be the only draft picks made by Steve Yzerman since he took over as Red Wings GM who are currently in the lineup.
Winger Lucas Raymond and defenseman Moritz Seider are 1-2 in NHL rookie scoring. They’re kids – Raymond is still a teenager – so they make plenty of mistakes, most of them when they don’t have possession of the puck.
LUCAS RAYMOND PPG! 🚨
— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) November 5, 2021
Regardless, they bring it every night. More often than not, they are producing. No one wearing the winged wheel is capable of making such a boast.
Certainly none of the remaining draft picks from the regime of previous GM Ken Holland could be put into that category.
Holland Picks Need To Pick It Up
If you’re looking for a root cause to the demise of the Red Wings, start by looking at the club’s draft record over the past 20 years.
There are only four Holland first-round picks in the Detroit lineup. One of them, Joe Veleno, just arrived on the scene. The others, for a variety of reasons, aren’t making significant contributions.
Captain Dylan Larkin can’t be criticzed for his absence. He’s been away from the team for a week dealing with an undisclosed personal matter. That it’s keeping a staunch competitor such as Larkin off the ice tells you the issue must be dramatic in its seriousness.
Winger Filip Zadina continues to be more hype than reality. Every so often – usually on the power play – he’ll flash an indication of his ability to finish. Then he goes back into hibernation.
— NHL (@NHL) November 5, 2021
That brings us to Michael Rasmussen. The 6-foot-6 center is looming large as an enigma. On Tuesday, he was skating in the middle of the team’s top line. Saturday against the Sabres, he’ll start the day as the fourth-line center.
When Blashil spoke of missed assignments on the penalty kill during Thursday’s 5-1 loss at Boston, Rasmussen was the unnamed guilty party. He was caught in no man’s land on the game’s first two goals as his man, Patrice Bergeron, was netting two of his four goals.
“When he’s on his game I think he does a pretty good job of defending, being long, making it hard on other people, being physical, being hard at the net,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Rasmussen. “When he gets off his game a little bit he probably thinks too much and it slows you down a little bit and you start to second-guess yourself.
“That’s the reality of a young guy being in a prominent role.”
Miles To Go For Red Wings
As the Hollies once expressed lyrically, the road is long, with many a winding turn.
Dreams a week ago that the Red Wings were finally turning a corner to respectability now seem so long ago.
Instead, the fact of the matter is that they still have miles to go in order to reach that destination.
Simon Edvinsson assists on Frölunda's 4-1 goal.
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) October 28, 2021
The good news is that more Yzerman first-round picks are near. Defenseman Simon Edvinsson could be a Red Wing as soon as next season. Goalie Sebastian Cossa is doing his best impression of a brick wall in the WHL.
The Yzerplan is working. But the reality is a fact that long-suffering Red Wings aren’t going to enjoy hearing.
There’s going to be more pain before there is gain.