Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

Improvement Needed

02/07/2022 at 8:17am EST

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

With 35 games remaining, here are five questions the Red Wings face the rest of the season:

Will they make a playoff push?

No. They are only one spot out of the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference, but they won’t catch Boston. The Bruins are nine points ahead and have four games in hand. If that isn’t a big enough hurdle to overcome, there’s this: The Red Wings have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NHL, based on opponents’ records, according to tankathon.com. Twenty-one of their 35 games are against teams currently in a playoff position, including 15 combined vs. Florida, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Carolina, the Rangers and Pittsburgh. The eight playoff spots in the East have been set for a while, highly unusual with so much of the season to play.

How much impact will Jakub Vrana have?

Vrana will certainly boost the offense and, they hope, the power play. The winger acquired from Washington in last year’s trade-deadline deal for Anthony Mantha has a mid-February appointment to see the surgeon who performed his shoulder surgery and perhaps get a more precise timeline for his return. He has been practicing for a couple of weeks and was cleared to shoot. He might return later this month. He certainly will slot into the top six. If Tyler Bertuzzi returns to the top line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond, Vrana likely would join Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri on the second line.

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from Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.

Hockey is a very taxing game. The average shift lasts about 45 seconds. Any physical activity you can’t do for even a full minute is extremely difficult. (Insert your favorite joke here.)

I can’t imagine the strength, resolve and mental fortitude it takes to play late in the third period against a guy like Kings forward Adrian Kempe, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound bruising forward who seems just as content scoring goals as he does trying to snatch souls with bone-crushing hits in the corners.

But that’s what the Wings must do. They have to get tougher and stronger and dictate the style and pace of play more often. They do that sometimes, but not with enough consistency. Again, the game against the Kings was a great example. Somehow — even though they’d been at home for five days and had a full day of rest — the Wings lost to a West Coast team at the end of a six-game Eastern trip. Inexcusable.

Los Angeles Kings center Andreas Athanasiou (22) gets defended by Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno (90) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 2, 2022.
“I didn’t think our battle level was nearly good enough,” Blashill said. “For the most part this season our compete and battle level has been really, really good. And I thought tonight, I thought the stick battles, they were harder on sticks, they were stopping on pucks better than us. …

“I thought we had too many guys that had their 'B' game — 'C' game, maybe — and we can’t afford that. We need guys to have their ‘A’ game.”

There’s no easy fix here. Like I said, a minute’s a long time. (Insert your second-favorite joke here). But whenever I watch a growing team like the Wings or the Lions or — OK, every Detroit team — the one thing I want more than results is effort. That’s something every team, regardless of talent, can control.

Blashill deserves some blame for this because he needs to find the right motivational tactic to get a consistently high effort out of his players.

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977. No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y. Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation. There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature. Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that.

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