Has Jeff Blashill made a steady transition from the AHL to the NHL?

 Once the 2015-2016 season got underway for the Detroit Red Wings, there was a different feel behind the bench. Mike Babcock, who had coached in Hockeytown for the past 10 seasons, signed an 8-year, $64 million deal in the off-season to be the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Wings wasted little time in finding a new man behind the bench, as they announced Jeff Blashill as the team’s new head coach. Blashill seemed like the choice that made the most sense at the time. Being familiar with how the team concept is run, and having a bond already with a vast majority of the Red Wings’ current roster seemed to make the transition much smoother from the AHL to the NHL level.

Coaching the past 3 seasons down in Grand Rapids, Blashill took the Griffins to the Calder Cup Playoffs each of his 3 seasons, with the 2012-2013 season being capped off with a championship in the AHL. His coaching success doesn’t need to be sugar-coated, as all the guy has done is win at every level he’s coached at.

Me personally, I was excited for this season to get underway and see how Blashill was going to have the boys ready to play on a nightly basis. He hasn’t disappointed one bit. We are sitting in playoff contention with a big two games out of the gate to start the second half of the season. The Wings visit Tampa Bay tonight, then travel to Sunrise, FL and take on the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers tomorrow night to cap off a back-to-back. I know it’s only two games, but these two could play a big role in where each team stands at the end of the season. Especially with “technically” 4 points being on the line in both contests. (There’s a 4-point difference between where each team could sit in the standings relative to one another barring the outcome of the game.)

Blashill has seemed to insert himself behind the Red Wings’ bench very well by gaining the trust of his players and making changes as soon as needed to help the team. Despite recent struggles with scoring goals and in the special teams department, Blashill is always looking for ways to change things up to see if it’s the proper formula to fix the problematic areas. Niklas Kronwall being put on long term injured reserve will surely make for some adjustments as to who quarterbacks the power play unit from the blue line. Petr Mrazek has been exceptional in goal this season, while Jimmy Howard on the other hand has been the complete opposite. It’s given the head coach more to think about goaltending-wise than he would particularly like. These three problematic areas will most likely be the main focus of Blashill’s attention heading towards the end of the season.

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Being Michigan-born, it has to still be surreal to Blashill himself that he is coaching the team he grew up watching. For a guy that is a student of the game and always looking for ways to make his team better, I believe Hockeytown can be comfortable with what he brings to the table, and that he will be our head coach for the foreseeable future. He’s winning, and in Detroit, that’s what we expect and then some.

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