The Wings' wounded blueline
It's a thin line between being a powerhouse and an also ran.
What's happened to Detroit's blue line the past few weeks has been absurd, really, as now Andreas Lilja is the team's top defender. The Red Wings' last 10 games have looked like this: Los Angeles, Toronto, Anaheim, Nashville, Columbus, Dallas, Colorado, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.
They've won just one of those games (1-7-2).
And, now, the Grand Rapids Griffins are playing on defence.
I've got a spreadsheet in front of me with the ice time of all the Detroit defenders over the past 10 games, and it's rather unbelievable. Rookie Derek Meech, for instance, played 27:19 last night against Edmonton. Brett Lebda led the group with 27:41.
Another rookie, Jonathan Ericsson, was playing key minutes on the power play and Kyle Quincey the penalty kill, with Garret Stafford picking up just five minutes ice time total.
Other than Lilja and Lebda, the Detroit blueline hadn't had more than a handful of games of experience in the NHL prior to this season.
Here's who's filled in on the blueline over the past 10 games (ice time is shown as percentage of team minutes played):
|B. Lebda D||10||0||1||-7||21||18.9%||23.0%||10.5%||19.4%|
|A. Lilja D||10||0||0||-5||17||18.4%||5.7%||24.4%||19.8%|
|D. Meech D||10||0||3||0||24||14.8%||19.4%||1.3%||15.9%|
|N. Lidstrom D||7||1||5||-7||11||14.0%||19.0%||15.3%||12.9%|
|C. Chelios D||8||1||0||1||8||11.4%||10.2%||21.7%||10.0%|
|B. Rafalski D||4||0||1||-4||10||8.9%||12.0%||7.4%||8.5%|
|K. Quincey D||6||0||0||-3||5||7.2%||4.2%||14.4%||6.6%|
|J. Ericsson D||3||1||0||-4||7||5.3%||6.4%||4.9%||5.2%|
|G. Stafford D||2||0||0||0||1||1.2%||0.0%||0.0%||1.5%|
Brad Stuart is on the way, so that'll help — although from the looks of his brief stint with the Kings, it might be a small relief until the cavalry comes.
Lidstrom does an awful lot for this team, that's for sure, but even he's went in the tank briefly before getting hurt.
The real wonder is if the Wings can put Humpty together again in time for the playoffs.