The Clipped Wings
It has not been an easy season for the Detroit Red Wings. They are near the bottom of their division and there has been a lot of speculation that their twenty five year playoff streak is going to end this season. Normally making the playoffs is a sign of a good team, but the last two seasons performances in the playoffs hasn’t been all that great and they haven’t been able to make it past the second round.
What is really hurts the team is that there is always a Wing hurting. They haven’t had their full line up almost all season due to injuries. It’s hard to be able to play at one hundred percent when the team can’t stay healthy. This season may not be going perfectly, but it would be going a lot better if if the Wings could stay healthy.
Darren Helm is known for his speed. Before Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou he was the fastest skater on the team. His original contract was over after last season but it was renewed for five years in July of 2016. There were some doubts that this was a good move on Detroit's part . Helm is fast but he sometimes has a hard time finding the back of the net, and the Wings have two younger players that are equally as fast and are better shots. However, Helm proved them wrong and was one of Detroit’s stop scorers in the beginning of the season.
On November 15, during the third period of a meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Helm was on a breakaway when he was hit by Nikita Nesterov and Helm landed on his arm. The next day it was announced that he dislocated his shoulder and was going to be out for at least six weeks. Detroit felt the loss, not only because of his scoring ability but because of the veteran leadership that the Wings young players needed. In his NHL career Helm has scored 76 goals and made 93 assists. Before his injury, Helm had 4 goals and 3 assists in just the 17 games that he played in.
Justin Abdelkader is a very polarizing figure for the Detroit Red Wings. Fans of other teams often call him a goon and a dirty player while Detroit fans say that he is a physical presence that the Wings need to play aggressive games. Detroit’s leadership must have agreed with the fans because leading up to this season Abdelkader was made an Alternate captain. He was called an obvious choice because of his hard work and his natural leadership abilities.
On December 1, 2016 Abdelkader collided with Florida’s Vincent Trocheck where he took an awkward fall and left the ice. The next day it was announced that Abdelkader had sprained his MCL. Despite hope that he wouldn’t be out for long Abdelkader has yet to return and has been put on injured reserved. In his NHL career Abdelkader has made 84 goals and 98 assists. Before he was inured he played 22 games this season and scored 4 goals.
Mike Green’s second season with the Red Wings started with a bang. During the home opener Green scored one goal in each period giving him his first career hat trick. Green continued to have a great season. He skated, he scored, he assisted. Green even lived up to the name Game Over Green when he scored with one minute left in overtime against the New Jersey Devils. Green was one player that had a lot of highs during a relatively low season.
During the final minute of the December 17 match up between The Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks Ryan Kesler hit Green into the boards. It was an awkward hit and Green was slow to get off the ice and went right to the locker room. He has been out since then with an undisclosed upper body injury. During his NHL career Green has scored 127 goals and 286 assists. Before his injury he played in 32 games and had 7 goals and 11 assists.
Jimmy Howard had a bit of a rough 2015–2016 season. He was coming off an injury and it looked like the future of the Red Wings goal-tending was going to be Petr Mrazek. However, the 2016–2017 season showed everyone that Jimmy Howard still had a lot of goal-tending fight left within him. Then Mrazek seemed to go into a slump and it looked like Jimmy Howard was going to be the first string goalie. At least for a while.
On December 20 the Red Wings were playing the Lightning. There was a scuffle in front of the net and Howard was tripped over. He went down at a bad angle and had to be helped off the ice by Drew Miller and Steve Ott. After being examined it was announced that Howard had a sprained MCL and was going to be out for 4 to 6 weeks. During his NHL career Howard has a save percentage of .915. Before he was injured Howard played in 17 games and had a save percentage of .934.
Niklas Kronwall has played for the Detroit Red Wings since 2003. He is known as a hard hitter especially for “Kronwalling”. Sometimes it does get him in trouble but for the most part the hits are clean and are needed, especially when they are playing against the more physical teams.
Kronwall hasn’t been suffering for a new injury, but he has been dealing with an existing one. Kronwall has a bad knee that will probably never fully heal. The Wings scratch him every few games to help keep the wear and tear on his knee minimal. During his NHL career Kronwall has 74 goals and 294 assists. During the 2016–2017 season he has played in 25 games and has 0 goals and 3 assists.
The Wings need a lot of help in the scoring department. Green and Helm both had hot streaks before they were injured. Abdelkader and Kronwall are very skilled at creating opportunities for goals as well as being aggressive and not letting other teams push Detroit around. Petr Mrazek seems to be in some kind of slump and even if he is a very promising goalie. This is Jared Coreau’s first year in the NHL and there are some games coming up in which there needs to be an experienced goalie in the net.
Hockey teams are made up of twenty players. Every player has his strengths and weaknesses, and when building a team general managers and coaches hope to get a balance so that players both compliment and complete each other. The Wings have been missing some of their key players that contributed to the the winning streak they enjoyed in the beginning of the season. Once the Wings started losing players they started falling into a slump that can’t seem to get out of. If the Wings could keep all of their players healthy then this team wouldn’t be so close to ending the playoff streak.
Abdelkader and Green are both back. Their first game is against on old rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, it is good to see them both back but there is always a chance that it might be too late to save this season from ending Detroit’s layoff streak.