You don’t tinker with a winning lineup.That’s a mantra that you hear often in professional sports. And it’s the primary reason why Danny Dekeyser likely is the odd-man out tonight when the Detroit Red Wings play at home against the New York Islanders.
The Red Wings own a four-game winning streak. Dekeyser is ready to play again after four games on the COVID-19 list, but the expectation is coach Jeff Blashill will follow the standard coaching code.
It presumably comes down to Dekeyser vs. Jordan Oesterle, and Oesterle has been in the lineup for all four wins. Plus, Oesterle has played well in his nine games this season. In his last six games, he’s +4 with one assist. The Red Wings are 4-1-1 in those games.
You can make a case, and fans do, that the Red Wings’ best defensive alignment has Oesterle in and Dekeyser out on a permanent basis. The Red Wings, who break down video and grade players on a game-to-game basis, believe Dekeyser is playing better than the fan base does. However, he hasn’t played good enough to consider his job safe.
Right now, Moritz Seider, Nick Leddy, Filip Hronek and Marc Staal are the entrenched defensemen, although Hronek got himself benched for a couple of games earlier in the season.Gus Lindstrom is another favored young defenseman. But he still trying to prove himself.
Lindstrom in Detroit’s Long-term Plans
He is never going to be flashy, but the Red Wings see him as part of the rebuild.
“I think Lindy has been pretty good,” Blashill said. “Some nights I think he’s been really good, some nights not quite to the same level. It’s the consistency night to night basis that is critical… Lindy moves the puck really well. He’s a really good passer. He’s gotten a little bit quicker (and) gotten a little bit stronger. That has helped him. He needed both of things. He needs to contine to improve in those areas Ultimately, he’s going to be a guy who is real hard defender who can pass the puck. Those guys can be really valuable in this league..
Tonight’s game will mark the first game for Leddy against his former Islanders team. He came to Detroit in an offseason trade. He has delivered what was expected: moving the puck quickly out of the defensive zone with his skating and serving as a leader.
“He has done a good job for us,” Blashill said.
Leddy has embraced being a mentor for players like Seider and Lindstrom
“I think he has really good veteran presence ,” Blashill said.
The Red Wings have a group of defensemen who can all play regularly. As Blashill says, no one “can hide” if he has a bad game because there is someone who can replace him.
“It’s certainly competitive,” Blashill said.