MLive.com’s Ansar Khan had an interesting tweet prior to the Detroit Red Wings’ game Sunday against the Boston Bruins.
Lines in warmups: Glendening-Datsyuk-Tatar Abdelkader-Zetterberg-Cole Nyquist-Sheahan-Pulkkinen Miller-Andersson-Weiss
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) March 8, 2015
That’s right, Luke Glendening was on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar. Now, I’ll preface this by saying I like what Glendening brings to the team, which is being a great penalty killer and faceoff taker, but he should not be getting top-line minutes.
Handcuffing His Linemates
Glendening is a nice fourth-line player, but a great puck carrier he is not. By putting Glendening on a line with Tatar and Datsyuk, you handcuff those two, so they essentially have one less linemate.
Other teams can focus all of their energy on Tatar and Datsyuk since they don’t have to worry about Glendening creating scoring chances.
Sure, Glendening will get the occasional soft goal, which he did against the Bruins, when Niklas Svedberg gave up a goal he would save 99 times out of 100, but for the most part, he won’t be able to generate any quality scoring opportunities.
According to Khan, the reason Glendening was put on the top line was because coach Mike Babcock said he will “work for those guys,” referencing Datsyuk and Tatar.
I’m not exactly sure what he’s trying to say, as I thought Tomas Jurco did a phenomenal job when he was on the Datsyuk’s and Tatar’s line. Fellow Red Wings contributor Brandon Peleshok agreed, saying giving Jurco only two games on the top line wasn’t a fair shot.
Pulkkinen Should Be Used More
The Red Wings recalled Teemu Pulkkinen for the game against the Bruins and opted to scratch Tomas Jurco. While it was good to see Pulkkinen on the third line rather than the fourth line, why not give him some first-line minutes?
He’s a better stick handler than Glendening, and he’s got a hard shot. He’s still learning how to adjust to the speed of the NHL, but surely putting a goal scorer on a line with Datsyuk, one of the better playmakers in the game, isn’t a bad idea.
During the game against the Bruins, Glendening received 15:44 of ice time, compared to 11:18 for Pulkkinen.
There’s something wrong with that.
Pulkkinen also didn’t see any time on the power play. Instead, Stephen Weiss was on the second power-play unit and coughed up the puck twice, which lead to two shorthanded goals against.
Again, when you have someone with a shot as hard as Pulkkinen’s, why would you not put him in a position to use that shot? He just scored a hat trick with the Grand Rapids Griffins less than a week ago. I realize scoring in the AHL is different than scoring in the NHL, but the kid loves to shoot the puck, and this team always has had a problem with making too many passes.
Give him an opportunity to showcase his skill and leave Glendening on the fourth line.
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Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.