I don’t know if Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff caught the Bally Sports Detroit broadcast last night, because Trevor Thompson explained that Troy Stecher was in the lineup instead of Filip Hronek for Saturday’s loss to Montreal only; Thompson said that coach Jeff Blashill would be giving Jordan Oesterle a chance to play today vs. Chicago.
In any case, Duff wrote a very good article discussing Filip Hronek’s absence from the lineup due to a “coach’s decision,” and, as Duff suggests, it’s hard to believe that the Red Wings’ coach was doing anything less than sending a message by scratching the team’s #1 defenseman:
“Coach’s decision,”Blashill said of Hronek’s absence from the lineup. “Just a decision. I said we got 8 D that I think are NHL defensemen. I made the decision to put Stech (Troy Stecher) in. Somebody has to come out.”
That the somebody who came out was a clear message from the that what Hronek has been offering the team through the fist four games of the 2021-22 NHL season wasn’t good enough.
Last year, Hronek led the Wings in scored with 26 points. He joined Paul Coffey as the only defensemen to lead the team in scoring in a single season in franchise history. For his performance, the Czech defender, a restricted free agent, was rewarded with a new contract. He signed a three-year deal worth $4.4 million.
However, with that kind of pact comes an increase in expectations and it’s evident that Hronek wasn’t delivering the goods. Through four games, his stats ledger was showing a solitary assist, even though he was logging a team-high 23:03 in ice time per game. Hronek’s Corsi of 37.1 rates the worst among Red Wings blueliners.
Minus Hronek, Blashill shuffled two of his three defense pairings against Montreal. Marc Staal played with Stecher. Gustav Lindstrom, who was skating in tandem with Staal, slid into Hronek’s vacated spot alongside Danny DeKeyser.
If I may be honest, I’d argue that Staal, Lindstrom and Moritz Seider have been the Wings’ best defensmen thus far. Staal has had some bad luck in terms of pucks going off him into the goal (see: two of last night’s six goals), but he’s at least been working hard;
Lindstrom has been a bit of a revelation as someone who finally looks ready for “prime time,” despite the occasional hiccup, and Seider has obviously been very good.
DeKeyser’s been downright Hronek-level shaky thus far, Stecher didn’t look good vs. Vancouver (though he had company in that department), and Nick Leddy has been good overall, but he had a particularly bad night vs. the Habs.