It hasn't been smooth sailing for the Detroit Red Wings this season. Multiple players landing on the COVID-19 protocol list combined with additional absences due to injury have resulted in just a single victory since starting the campaign with a 2-2 record.
That begs the question that many in the fan base are asking: what exactly are head coach Jeff Blashill and GM Steve Yzerman looking for out of the players on the roster (and future players) in terms of development and yearly improvement?
“It’s an organization outlook, and so certainly Steve has a say in what the expectations are for our players,” Blashill said. “They are certainly in line with what mine are, and that is that we continue to try to learn to play the right way. I know that’s kind of a vague term. So what does that mean?
“That means not being careless with the puck. Managing the puck. Finding the balance between making plays with the puck, which offensive players have to do, and yet managing it; not turning it over at our blue line, not turning it over at their blue line, not trying to force things that aren’t there. That’s a growth aspect. That would be one area.”
“How each player checks — is he continuing to grow defensively, to where they are hard to play against because they are checking well, not giving up easy chances. How your work ethic and compete is every day. Those are kind of the main areas that we have to make sure we are growing these guys.”
So how about the top sources of offense on the roster, among which are the likes of Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha?
“There’s going to be times you produce at higher levels and times you don’t produce at higher levels, but that’s not going to dictate our outlook on their growth,” Blashill said. “Our outlook on their growth is going to be managing the puck, because every good team does; playing good defensively, because every good team does; and working and competing. If you have those four components — you show me a championship team that doesn’t. Every championship team I’ve ever seen, they have those components. They manage the puck, they defend well, and they work and compete.
“That’s ultimately what the end goal is here. So, with Dylan, and Anthony and Filip Zadina and Filip Hronek and any other player we have, we want to make sure they are learning long term to play the right way and have those championship components.”
– – Quotes via Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press Link – –