It would be an understatement to say that the month of March has been less than kind to the Detroit Red Wings. The team has a 3-4-0 record thus far, including an embarrassing 7-2 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon. Captain Henrik Zetterberg called out his team after the game:
“I think it’s almost that we’re hiding out there,” Zetterberg said. “We’re all afraid. We don’t want the puck. If you have it you’d rather give it to someone else. And then all of a sudden we start playing. So we know that we can play. Somehow we want to wait 20 minutes before we get going. Where we are right now we can’t do that.”
Clearly, the Wings received the message loud and clear, as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins today in a convincing fashion by a score of 5-1. One of the more impressive performances during the game was that of 38-year-old defender, Marek Zidlicky. In fact, despite the Red Wings’ struggles this month, both Zidlicky and Erik Cole have looked good during their short time in Detroit.
Zidlicky Provides Offensive Spark
When I discussed Detroit making a trade for Zidlicky in early February, I assumed that he would provide a boost to the team’s second power play unit, and perhaps put up some even strength points. He has far exceeded my expectations, scoring three goals and four assists through seven games with the Red Wings.
Though he has played primarily on the third pairing with Brendan Smith, Zidlicky has received ample time on Detroit’s power play (2:41 PP TOI/GP), where he has scored five of his seven of his points. Zidlicky has also proven himself capable of handling the physical aspects of the game. While he may take a questionable penalty or make an errant pass from time to time, the offense he provides tends to even things out.
Cole Brings Size, Speed to Red Wings’ Line-Up
Cole has worked out well in Detroit, too. Through seven games as a member of the Red Wings, he has notched one goal and three assists. Cole’s also shown a physical edge during his time as a Red Wing, racking up twelve hits so far. He has spent the majority of his time in Detroit on Zetterberg’s wing, though he moved to Datsyuk’s line prior to today’s game versus Pittsburgh. The addition of Cole gives Mike Babcock several options throughout his line-up. As THW’s Tom Mitsos suggested, the veteran winger can slot in just about anywhere on the depth chart.
While neither player is likely to stay with the Red Wings past this season, they are certainly showing that Ken Holland made the right decision by being active during this year’s trade deadline. They should provide the Red Wings with plenty of depth heading into the post-season.
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I am a writer from Windsor, Ontario who has covered the Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. I have had the pleasure of doing so since February of 2015. Previously, I have written about Red Wings prospects for Hockey’s Future. I am always up for chatting about the Red Wings and hockey in general, so leave me your comment and/or tweets. Follow me on Twitter at @BrandonPeleshok.