Let’s all relax a little bit, now that the Detroit Red Wings have played five NHL Pre-Season games and have had some struggles with their ought-to-be second line. There is some under-the-mouth rumblings between Red Wings fans about both Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson’s performances so far. The issue is mainly that the two have not produced much offensively and have missed games due to injuries – already.
The truth about pre-season games is that they do not mean much, and while the young bucks have to keep the pedal to the metal at all times, I have no doubt in my mind that some veterans coast their way through – you can tell this even with Pavel Datsyuk’s play. He has had a fantastic pre-season, though it does help that he has not faced top lines in each game. You can tell he is making more creative plays and is a bit more adventurous than he is in the regular season. Perhaps we can look at it as a bit more fun version of Dats.
The regular season is night and day compared with the pre-season, and generalizations and conclusions should be avoided until it matters. Look at Weiss and Alfredsson’s careers and you only see one thing: “consistency“. This is the word that defines both players and this is exactly why in Weiss’s case, he got a long-term deal. Alfredsson has had 11 season with 20 or more goals and was just about on pace for that amount last season. Weiss had three 20-goal seasons in a row before last, a lockout and injury-shortened season.
Consistency is what also defines the long and hard grind of an 82-game season. Remember Cory Conacher last year? Cory started off on a scorching pace with 11 points in the first seven games of the season, but fizzled with 18 points over the next 28 games. So, while this example is not the only one, it shows that short stretches of hockey can be very enigmatic and slumps, hot streaks, and injuries are part of this equation. Weiss, Alfredsson, and Johan Franzen have established their “norm” for a hockey season and those norms are going to happen again.
The bright side of things is that Detroit might find a slew of scoring from their 3rd line with the likes of Gustav Nyquist (if he gets a chance to crack the bottom six), Tomas Tatar (he is a lock for the 3rd line), and Joakim Andersson (he has the size in the middle that Detroit really needs). These three could make a really good 3rd line, but even with Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi, and Dan Cleary you can have another three guys who can put in 10 to 15 goals each playing limited minutes. All of the players are fairly good defensively and understand their specific roles.
The scoring issue to me, at least as of now, has been fixed. Why am I so confident? Well, I am confident because hockey favors averages and while short seasons can offer enigmas, diversity, and filled with superhero performances, if you have been paying attention to hockey long enough, you will find this to be true.
Weiss had a terrible PDO of 920 last season that really turned an injury filled season into a truly awful offensive one as well. He will rebound from this as he will be surrounded with better teammates and better opportunity to succeed. This was also his lowest PDO of his career.
Daniel Alfredsson had a rating of 1.17 points per 60 minutes and this is a telling story of his impact on the team that had two of its most prolific superstars on the shelf for the most of the season. Daniel likes to hover at around 2 points per 60 minutes played and should return to that status while playing with the Wings. I can also see him getting a bit more powerplay points, as he will see prime ice time with Datsyuk and Zetterberg’s unit.
Acquiring established free agents is something Detroit has been known for, for a while. This is also why Detroit has been consistent for so long. They use and apply players with proven efforts while having realistic expectations from players who may not be ready.
The Detroit Red Wings will have a top-10 offense in the league this season once again, and you should sleep very soundly on that.
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