After adding Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss as free agents this summer, the Detroit Red Wings hoped to posses one of the stronger second lines in the NHL. Four games into the NHL season, that second line has been anything but strong, prompting coach Mike Babcock to shake up all of his lines.
Not a single one of his combinations from the first four games remains intact, and the poor play of that second unit is believed to be the main motivation for the changes.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Alfredsson has been dropped from the second line to the third, taking up a wing alongside Joakim Andersson and Dan Cleary. Todd Bertuzzi will skate alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg now, with Justin Abdelkader moving to the second line to install “some work ethic.”
The fourth line could provide the heavier type of play that Babcock is looking for. Jordin Tootoo will make his season debut, as will recently recalled Luke Glendening. The coach spoke to the Free Press about what kind of hockey we was looking for heading into tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers:
I talk about it day in and day out but I haven’t seen it – we don’t play heavy enough. We’ve got to play heavier. I’m a big believer that energy is contagious. Goal scoring is contagious. Physical play is contagious. We need some physical play. We need a much better effort than the other night. We’re thankful we have a game quickly here so we can get on with that and get better.
The changes aren’t just relegated to the forward group though. Brendan Smith will be scratched and Brian Lashoff will draw in for tonight’s game. Babcock has never been one to sit on his hands if his team isn’t playing how he wants, and this is a dramatic but necessary for a team that has looked sleepy through a 2-2 start.