Much Ado About Defense
I imagine there are few Red Wings fans that are surprised by our defensive woes, but it was nice to come into the season with some optimism before we saw exactly what kind of defense we can expect to see. Only a couple weeks in and we've already had our fair share of ups and downs, and there are a lot of games ahead of us where we can be pleasantly, or unpleasantly, surprised. You all know I'm not good with the fancy stats, so consider the following purely my opinion as an observer and you can discuss in the comments if the hard evidence backs me up.
So, what's going on?
Here's some good news
While it's hard to be happy about anything defensively, it isn't 100% doom and gloom. I'd say maybe 50% "doom", 25% "gloom", 24% "hmmmm...ok...I guess", and 1% "hooray!".
Mike Green has been showing some offensive spark, which I think is exactly his role. Like all our defense he has to be careful timing his pinches, especially when his partner is Danny DeKeyser (more on him later). He does seem to be the best of the worst at getting plays started, and obviously his hat trick was a hoot and a half. He hasn't been a turnover machine, which is the highest compliment I can pay a member of our defensive corps. He's on a good pace points wise, but it's far too early to see if that will hold up or if the spark was just a spark and not the beginning of a roaring offensive fire that rescues our season and carries us to the playoffs once more...no pressure Mike.
Those of us who haven't had the opportunity to watch many Griffins games are still getting to know Ryan Sproul and what kind of style he brings but so far I'm happy with his tendency to let shots rip. As Danny Dekeyer's fluke goal showed (lol Bishop), you never know what might happen when you take a shot. I prefer him over Xavier Ouellet at the moment and am excited to see what he brings to the table the rest of the season - hopefully he won't pick up any bad habits from our current crew.
Color me surprised, but Ericsson has been not bad so far. He's made some nifty plays and hasn't been coughing up the puck. He's even taken fewer penalties than I expected following all the minutes he got for fighting. Keep it up!
Here's a small portion of the bad news
What the [bleep] is going on with Dekeyser? He has been turning over the puck left, right, up, down, around the corner, and down the street. The puck is being presented by him to the opposing team on a silver platter, gently settled on an elegant doily with a light fragrance of gardenia. I'm not super worried about his offensive production, if he's going to be paired with Green then in my opinion he should be playing more the stay at home role, but these turnovers. Woof. This is actually not something new for Dekeyser, as the past few years he has had a problem turning over the puck. However this year, more than any year in recent memory, there is no place to hide on defense and you can't count on your partner to always cover your butt when you mess up.
It might be that my hopes for Marchenko were too high, but he has just been blah. His resting grump face is endearing, but his play has not been impressive. Even if he could just be average, that would be better than what we have right now. I see glimpses of good puck movement, but he gets caught out of position.
And here are some things that aren't news but I have opinions about
I'm curious to see what happens when Kronner is healthy, it is encouraging to see that neither he nor the team are rushing to bring him back before he's ready. I am not physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually prepared for the return of the Ericsson-Kronwall pairing, so I am hoping that is not going to be our third pair. What do you think happens? We've heard the news that the Sproul should be looking for a place in Detroit - is Kronner our 7th man until somebody is so bad that he can replace them (or gets injured)?
Whaaaaaat? But, Larkin isn't a defenseman! True, but all forwards have defensive responsibilities and Larkin has not been carrying his share of the burden. Like much of the fanbase, I believe Larkin is a golden ray of sunshine sent to light our path through the darkness, but he has been having turnover issues too. He also hilariously has a bit of an issue staying out the box, little rabble rouser that he is. Playing the wing he gets more room to fly, but he still needs to be a little more careful. (Note: Larkin scored while I was typing that previous sentence so maybe I need to criticize him more often).
If I had a nickel for every odd man rush against the Wings, I'd have enough money to spear a player of my choice. Our wingers need to be a little more supportive of the defense, because our defense will get caught pinching, it's kind of our thing, and offensively we need to anticipate that. It may not be totally fair to ask that of the offense, but it's the world we live in. Luckily, we have two outstanding goalies to defend against these kinds of rushes, but as we saw against the Panthers we can't depend on them to solve all our problems.
So folks, agree? Disagree? Have some fancy stats angles? Want to argue about Brendan Smith? Have at it in the comments!
Let's Go Red Wings!