Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock toyed with some new line combinations in practice today in an effort to break some key players out of current slumps.â†µ
Babcock left his first and fourth lines the same but juggled the second and third lines, along with the power play units. However, there's no guaruntee that's what we'll see when the Wings take the ice tomorrow against Edmonton:â†µ
"There have been lots of days at practice where you saw it one way and then it never even made it to the rink the next day," Babcock said, smiling. "I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t one of them. "I don’t know what I’m going to do. I want to get everybody going."â†µ
By "everybody" Babcock really means forwards Jiri Hudler and Johan Franzen. Hudler hasn't scored this season after playing a year in Russia and Franzen has been stuck on 99 career goals since Oct. 28. In practice Babcock centered Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi with Mike Modano on the second line and put Hudler on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary. He also tinkered with the power play unit, which went 0-for-4 against Phoenix on Tuesday and is 2-for-19 overall.â†µ
Babcock reiterated that the line combos are not set in stone and it's ultimately the players that decide where they play:â†µ
"You know, it’s interesting. I say this all the time: The players decide, not the coach. They don’t believe that, but that’s the facts. They decide who plays because how they play determines who plays.â†µ
Though the team is sitting just one point out of first place in the Central Division, the Red Wings really haven't played a complete game yet. That's good for the fans and bad news for the rest of the league. If Detroit can get everyone on the same page (and stop giving up goals in the last 30 seconds of a period EVERY game), this team is going to be a nightmare to stop.