WN Roundtable: What’s one thing the Wings need to change to have the best chance to win the series?

The Wings head into a crucial Game 2 tonight. Win, and they’re heading back to Motown with a tied series and momentum on their side.

Lose, and they’re in need of winning four of their next five games to move on, a task not impossible but certainly daunting.

However, many of us feel that the Red Wings aren’t set up in a way that’s best suited for them to achieve success.

On today’s roundtable, we tackle the question:

What’s one thing the Wings need to change to have the best chance to win the series?

Ryan Hana

The first game of this series showed, to the surprise of some, that Detroit can keep up in this series. If Tampa Bay holds to the majority of predictions and wins the series, it will not be without great effort. Detroit put forward a much better, more competitive game than has been seen of late – an effort that, with an extra boost, could lead to victory.

That “boost”, in my mind, is a hot goaltender (à la Roy, Hasek, Quick, etc.) that can steal victories in an otherwise tight battle. Detroit’s woes throughout the season, namely defense and holding leads, are not going to suddenly disappear, as they are mostly due to personnel. Even if one brings in Brendan Smith over, say, Jonathan Ericsson, it is unlikely that the change will make a significant enough impact to win a hard-fought battle. A goalie that is playing out of his mind, however, can be that difference-maker. Whether it be Howard or Mrazek, a Red Wings netminder making saves that are anything but routine can be the “X-factor” in what is shaping up to be a gritty, tight series.
My opinion lends to Mrazek being more capable of said performance, however he has not been even close to that kind of form since his bout with the flu and groin injury earlier this season. Stealing a series through goaltending is not the only way Detroit can win, but it would be the most likely change (if one is to occur) that would make the difference for the Red Wings.

Scott Maxwell

Detroit’s defensive woes are something that everyone who watches has taken note of this season. Kronwall isn’t the same defenceman he once was. Ericsson makes more turnovers than a bakery. Quincey has lots of brain farts. Marchenko is inexperienced. The only defensemen who are solid are DeKeyser and Green, but you can’t play them all sixty minutes.

They need to add a solid top four defenseman to the lineup. Good thing they have one sitting in the press box. Now, I’m not saying that Brendan Smith is the answer to their prayers, but he certainly wouldn’t hurt the team, especially if he came in the place of one of Detroit’s worse d-men. He’d add a bit more depth to the blue line, which they are going to need if they want to shut down the Lightning.

Kyle Krische

What I’d like to see for the rest of this series is something we got glimmers of in game one. It’s a weakness I think the Red Wings need to exploit and I think they’re already halfway there. The team has to face some facts, one of which being this series is difficult because Tampa plays the same game, only much better. Their goaltending right now is better. Their forwards are faster across the board and have more skill as a group. Their defense is light-years (sorry) ahead and both teams are playing a high-speed/skill game. If Detroit has a shot in this series they need to channel the vibes from the 2013 team who upset the Anaheim Ducks. 

If I remember anything from that series it’s Abdelkader taking 1000 strides only to jump through the face of Toni Lydman’s (yes, that was a Ducks players at some point) and receive a two-game suspension. Am I condoning injuring another player? No, and I never would. What I’m trying to say is there was intensity there; there was a strategy there. They weren’t going to win that series playing a straight game and neither will they here. So they went to work a different way.

We saw scrums, face-washes, we saw after-whistle drama and I loved every second of it. One of the more underrated pests on the Red Wings? Brad Richards. Opposing teams hate him and I started to see glimmers of why he was maybe worth $3M this year. I’d love to see Richards-Glendening-Helm put together. We have speed from Helm, defensive prowess from Glendening and the experience of knowing how to push buttons in Richards. Abdelkader stays on that top line where he’s not expected to score and can continue to take runs at Drouin. I’ve seen a lot of praise for Drouin’s play in game one, I personally saw a lose cannon looking to shake that ‘soft’ label being tossed around at any cost. There’s no better player than Abdelkader to oblige him there. Let’s not forget Datsyuk throwing punches with Perry and his buddy Zetterberg is no stranger to being a thorn in the side of the competition either.

What this does is also creates an opportunity for AA and Larkin to get a shot together which I think many would welcome. By playing a pesty shutdown game, we at the same time free up two potentially good scoring and (more importantly) two really fast lines to throw out against some of the weaker Tampa Bay depth. Our fourth line was key last year until the Glendening injury and this year I think we should expect the same. Let’s get in scrums, let’s push buttons, let’s be pests because like we said Tampa is quick, that includes quick to get angry. Exploit it.

Brock Seguin 

Unfortunately, there seem to be so many changes that would help this team, whether it’s reinserting Brendan Smith, giving Andreas Athanasiou more ice time or putting Petr Mrazek in net. 

However, at this point it has become abundantly clear that none of those things are going to happen, so I’m going to change something more tangible. I’m sending Joakim Andersson’s ass back to Grand Rapids, because why the hell is he here in the first place? We have enough forwards who are capable of killing penalties while also possessing the ability to score. This is playoff hockey, you need to be tough, you can’t get pushed around and the Red Wings have players in Grand Rapids that would fill that fourth line role better than Andersson.

Eric Tangradi is the first player that comes to mind. He’s a big body and isn’t afraid to use it. We have enough players who don’t want to mix it up, why bring up another one who can’t even score? This probably isn’t the most pressing issue with Detroit right now but it’s the one that frustrates me the most. I can understand Jimmy Howard starting and “AA” only seeing nine minutes a night. Andersson sitting in the AHL all year and being brought back for the playoffs? No. I’d rather see Darren McCarty come out of retirement.

Adam Laskaris

Sign Nick Lidstrom right now? Offer Mike Babcock an under-the-table consulting job? Create an advanced stats department from Hockey Twitter? 

No, the one thing the Wings need to do is to play Dylan Larkin like he should be played. Play the hell out that boy. He’s a real gem, a real go-getter. Maybe he’ll never be a top-10 forward in the league, and chances are he’s not even a top-5 forward in his draft class, but he’s been arguably the Wings’ best player this season. There’s a reason he led the team in even-strength points this season. He’s talented, young, and ready. In his first playoff experience, he’s gotta be hungry and determined to produce.

I’m not saying he should be playing 30 minutes a night, but maybe 29:59. Or at least more than the just over 11 minutes he played in Game 1. 

If your best players are supposed to be your best players in the playoffs, limiting their opportunities won’t help your team much.