This morning Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill appeared on Sirius XM radio with Gord Stellick and Rob Simpson to talk about the Red Wings. For the most part, the interview was what you would expect to hear from a coach: he sees the Wings doing some good things but there's a lot of room for improvement. You can listen to the interview in its entirety here.
He mentioned that none of the injured players are expected to return "immediately" and are likely 2-3 weeks away from being healthy. He talked about his feelings of coaching his first ever NHL game and what that meant to him and his family. He was asked about the playoff streak and the kind of pressure that puts on him, and he said he welcomes it because it means he's part of an organization that has high expectations for success. He had praise for Pavel Datsyuk because that's what one does.
Beyond the expected stuff, however, a few nuggets came out that were pretty interesting.
The Wings actively track zone time
When discussing the areas in which the Red Wings can improve, Blashill specifically mentioned being better breaking out and spending far less time in their own zone compared to the offensive zone. This isn't the first time he's mentioned that, but he explicitly stated that the Wings track zone time, and while it has improved over the last week, it's still not where they want it to be. Mickey mentioned more than once on Tuesday that the Wings were spending far too much time in their own zone and that was partially to blame for their inability to sustain any offensive pressure. Related to this, Blashill also mentioned that as a "tape-to-tape" team, there's an inherent risk in turning the puck over, but they need to be better as a team at managing that.
He has an idea on who his best defensemen are
It was noted that the Wings have been unable to replace Nicklas Lidstrom, and Blashill rightly pointed out that's a near impossible task. However, when discussing who his "1-2" defensemen were, he said he felt that Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser were both capable of being top defensemen in the NHL, but that both need to be better this season. Curiously, he did not mention Jonathan Ericsson, despite his continued deployment on the top line. It can't help but make one wonder that once some of the injured defensemen come back, Ericsson will be once again bumped down a pairing or two like he was against Calgary.
He had high praise for Teemu Pulkkinen
Stellick and Simpson like to highlight one player per team when talking about a coach, and Pulkkinen's name was brought up. Blashill first said that he doesn't think a player has had an impact on the AHL like Pulkkinen did last year in a very long time, if ever, and had a lot of good things to say about his offensive skills. However, he went out of his way to highlight that Pulkkinen has been working very hard in his own zone and is trying to get better as a 200-foot player. He said he was "in our top 3 of impactful forwards this year" and brought up how he creates scoring chances for the Wings and prevents them for the other team. Which leads us into our final point...
The Wings actively track scoring chances per player
I don't think this is any sort of major revelation, as I'm sure that every team does this to some degree. But Blashill said that Pulkkinen gives very little scoring chances against and gets about the most of any forward on the team so far this season. What's interesting to note about this is that it may have an effect on lines as the season progresses, and gives some insight into how Blashill is creating a lineup. The caveat here is not knowing what the Wings consider a "scoring chance", as I'm sure there's some subjectivity to it that might cause another person to disagree.