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Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Coach Lalonde Shuffles Lines To Find Missing Offense



Alex DeBrincat
Alex DeBrincat is now playing on Andrew Copp's line. He has one point during the losing streak. (Photo by Michael Caples)

When the Detroit Tigers were struggling to stay in the pennant race in 1972, losing 10 of their last 14 because of anemic offense, then-Tigers manager Billy Martin decided to bring levity to the situation and relax his team. He announced he was going to change his batting order by drawing names out of a hat.

Home run hitter Norm Cash batted leadoff. Light-hitting shortstop Eddie Brinkman was in the cleanup spot. The Tigers won that game 3-2 and ended up qualifying for the American League championship series.

Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde isn’t following Martin’s 52-year-old plan.  But the idea is similar. No hats were involved in the reshuffling of his lines and defensive pairings. But Lalonde has given his team a put-names-in-a-blender look for tonight’s game against the Arizona Coyotes (7 p.m., Bally Sports). Lalonde is trying to put a charge into his offense in the name of halting a six-game losing streak.

“Some different looks,” Lalonde said. “Maybe giving a little different feel to some different lines. Maybe a little more grittier, something a little different. A situation like this is an opportunity to blend it up a little bit and that’s what we did.”


Kane, DeBrincat Break-up

The biggest moves made in Wednesday’s practice: Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat are not together, and Moritz Seider is now with Ben Chiarot. Petry is now playing alongside Olli Maatta. Joe Veleno is centering Michael Rasmussen and Kane, while J.T. Compher will be between David Perron and Lucas Raymond. DeBrincat is on the third line with Andrew Copp as his center.  DeBrincat has no goals and one assist during the losing skid.

Detroit has owned one of the NHL’s top offensive teams this season. Just recently, the Red Wings ranked as high as fourth in goals per game. Now they are sixth (3.40 goals per game). But Detroit has only managed 11 goals in the losing streak. That’s an average of 1.83 goals per game. The Red Wings have been shut out twice, including once by tonight’s opponent. The Coyotes beat them 4-0 last Friday.

This is a Coyotes team that ranks 24th in team goals-against average this season (3.36). The win over Detroit is Arizona’s only victory in the past five games. The Coyotes are 3-16-2 in their last 21 games.

The Red Wings aren’t just looking to play better: this is very much a must-win game if they are serious about making the playoffs. The New York Islanders are at Buffalo today and Tampa Bay are home to face the New York Rangers.