Red Wings' Mike Babcock Shuffles the Lines

Doug Pensinger

Today's practice news comes from Red Wings Front's Chuck Pleiness about a switch in the lines.

"It’s not going," Babcock said after practice. "I told them and you guys I wasn’t going to split them up and 11 games in I’m splitting them up. It wasn’t by plan and not necessarily what I wanted to do, but we need to."

Datsyuk will center a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Todd Bertuzzi, while Zetterberg will center Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar.

Head over there for a bunch more, including more quotes from Babcock, Zetterberg, and Tatar.

With the top two lines set as such, line three will keep Stephen Weiss, who's got Pavel Datsyuk's old wingers in Daniel Cleary and Justin Abdelkader to keep him company.  Line four remains Tootoo-Andersson-Miller for now, as Patrick Eaves and Darren Helm aren't quite ready to go (and the team doesn't have roster/cap room for both of them anyway).

Defensive pairings stayed the same in today's practice as well with Kronwall-Smith, Quincey-DeKeyser, and Lashoff-Kindl manning the space in front of Jimmy Howard.

Thoughts

  • I really like the thought of Datsyuk and Alfredsson together since Alfie seems to have gotten over the small groin issue from earlier this month. If Pavel won't be with Zetterberg, this is as close to the old Franzen-Datsyuk-Hossa line from 2009 that we're going to see. Bert actually does his job as the big man on a line and he should make plenty of room for the creative passing of Datsyuk and Alfredsson's willingness to snipe.
  • I'm hoping Zetterberg inspires Franzen and calms Tatar on the second line. I'm worried about the youngster getting overwhelmed, but if Mule and Z can hold onto the puck a bit, he should be able to find the soft areas of the ice to score.
  • The Cleary-Weiss-Abdelkader line is a bit of a throwback grinding-type trio. If Babcock wants Weiss focusing on just being hard to play against, he's got the right two linemates for that. They're not going to be consistently dangerous offensively, but I don't think they need that to happen.
  • Line 4 has people that I recognize on it.
  • I don't completely dislike the Kronwall-Smith pairing, but I hope Kronner is feeling better than he did on Wednesday. It's two offensive defensemen there and one of them is going to have to remember to stay home at all times. They should get some breaks with playing behind very good backcheckers, but they need to finish on the offensive opportunities they get.
  • Quincey-DeKeyser is set to make Danny DK the pass-happy rush-leading blueliner on that duo. With how calm he's been with the puck on his stick lately, I'm ok with this. I also like the added snarl that Quincey has shown lately. When he's not forced to do too much thinking, he's really good at separating forwards from the puck.
  • Kindl-Lashoff will get the easier assignments, but will also be giving outlet passes to the guys who aren't as good at receiving them, so it's going to call for more simple plays just to clear the zone and a bit of intelligently-timed aggression from Kindl, who has shown good flashes of that.
  • For the love of everything, please let these lines stay together for the entire night, regardless of what happens. If you're not going to commit to a five-game stretch of line consistency, please give us one.

The Rangers are 2-6 and have given up more goals than Detroit has while having played three fewer games. Excuses are going to be hard to come by if the Wings can't get a good performance tomorrow night.

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