In Detroit's recent trio of games against Colorado, Dallas, and Phoenix, their performance has ranged from a step behind all the way to highly competitive. The bottom line is inconsistency. Some of that is still early-season rust being shaken off, compounded by yet another spate of injuries that have taken out Jonathan Ericsson, Brian Rafalski, and Johan Franzen.
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The Red Wings need to find a way to get better performance out of an ordinary looking top line. Henrik Zetterberg has yet to score a goal, and Todd Bertuzzi is leading the team in scoring so far. While second-line scoring is always important, it doesn't help a lot if the first line can't produce consistently as well. the third line needs to start to gel a little more and bring a little more to the table defensively. Cleary, Hudler, and Modano are all minus players right now, and if they can't put points on the board, they at least need to prevent points against.
Particularly in the Dallas game, the Wings looked a step behind, as they did in the first couple of games this season. Babcock needs to talk to his boys about working on their foot speed and not getting beat to loose pucks. Another area that still shows some weak spots is in making good decisions with the puck and not allowing unforced turnovers. Puck possession has been the key to the Red Wings system and success for years, and they need to work on that, as well as play without the puck.
Though their current win-loss record and points have them on pace to finish well into the playoff picture, it's still very early in the season, and as the grind wears on they have to step up and meet the challenge of the younger, quicker teams head-on. The Red Wings aren't the biggest, fastest, and by no means the youngest team out there, so they've got to work on speed and skill to hold off all the challengers that still use them as a measuring stick. Luckily the Sharks don't show up on the schedule for another six weeks.
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