Mike Babcock isn’t going to stand idly by as the Detroit Red Wings continue to leave points on the table. When the team lost to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, it marked the fourth consecutive slash in the L column for the Wings. They are now 9-5-5 and are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
For that contest in Winnipeg, Babcock scratched one of his typical favorite players in Dan Cleary. Cleary was brought on at the eleventh hour as a free agent, turning down a deal of some kind with the Philadelphia Flyers to stay in Detroit for another year. At that juncture, the Wings were glad to bring him back.
Clearly is typically a player that hustles, gets to the front of the net and is a leader both on and off the ice. That player has been MIA this season, however. He’s only scored one goal and added two assists in 18 games despite seeing some time on the top two lines for the Wings.
Babcock gave him a game to think about it as a scratch, but will bring Cleary back into the fold against the Washington Capitals tonight according to the Detroit News.
Heading the other direction will be Tomas Tatar, who has gone pointless in his last four contests after registering one it the three consecutive games prior.
The Wings just need one of these depth forwards to step up at this point. That’s been Detroit’s biggest issue this season, and on some nights it seems that only Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are going 110%.
Those two can be tough to keep up with from a talent standpoint, but this is a team that’s been badly outworked on multiple occasions over the last few weeks. Babcock will likely keep moving guys in and out of the lineup until he sees an effort that satisfies him. Tonight, Cleary will be in and Tatar will be out.