The Detroit Red Wings start a home-and-home series against the Ottawa Senators at Joe Louis Arena tonight, and based on their play as of late, Jeff Blashill has decided to change up the lines in hopes that some of his key players will step up their game.
Dylan Larkin will rejoin a line with Henrik Zetterberg, and Justin Abdelkader on the wing. This line has been the Wing’s best line all season. With Larkin moving away from center again, Riley Sheahan will center a line between Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. Blashill has high expectations for this line and really wants them to be difference-makers.
“They were real good in Edmonton (3-1 loss on Oct. 21) and we broke them up because of an injury (to Brad Richards),” Blashill said. “I think they can be real good together. In fact, as I spoke to them yesterday, I believe they either have been or are going to be elite players in this league, but they have to prove it.
“When they’re together, they have to prove it on their own merit and not on a line with Zetterberg or a line with (Pavel) Datsyuk, so they’re going to have to step up and prove they’re elite, elite players in this league.”
The Red Wings are also hoping that this change will get Riley Sheahan going. Sheahan comes into tonight having the worst plus/minus on the team and a dismal 2 points. Sheahan has to get back to playing his game which includes crashing the net and using his quick hands in close. He also needs to use his big body to give opponents fits in the offensive zone.
“I’ve got to get my feet going,” Sheahan said. “I haven’t been happy with how I played the last few games. I need to try to get more pucks on the net and keep it simple. Just get the feet going.”
The other changes that are being made to the line up include moving Darren Helm back to center for the first time this year. He will be flanked by Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco. After missing all of training camp and the exhibition season, Helm has been trying to get up to speed. He has no points and is a minus 3 in his first 5 games. When Helm is on his game, he wreaks havoc on the competition and can get to a lot of loose pucks before anyone else.
The fourth line will be centered by Luke Glendening. Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson will join him in trying to shutdown the Senator’s top line.
I realize it is early in the season, but these next two games against the Senators are important. The Red Wings need to get going offensively. They need to break out of their zone more effectively and create more opportunities on offense outside of just shots on net.
Let’s hope this team can get back to playing the way we know they can! Let’s Go Red Wings!