It’s no secret that I’ve written off this season for the Red Wings and want to see them “play the kids.” I wrote early this month that I liked that Ryan Sproul had been in position to make the mistake that led to a Florida Panthers overtime win.
The game after that mistake, Sproul was a minus-3 in a loss to Pittsburgh. He’s played in just four of the Red Wings’ 11 games since then. He’s spent time behind both Brian Lashoff and Nick Jensen on the Wings’ depth chart.
Andreas Athanasiou had seven shifts last night. At the end of the first period, on his fourth shift, the Senators scored with seconds left to tie things up. On his sixth shift, he jumped the gun to try to force an odd-man rush and was out of position when the pass he was waiting for got picked off, turning into an Ottawa goal. His seventh shift closed out the second period. He didn’t play in the third.
I want to see what the kids can do when given opportunity. Benching takes that opportunity away. We may find out over a season that Sproul doesn’t have it. We may find out that Athanasiou can’t handle more than 12 minutes per night. But we don’t know unless they get that opportunity.
I will say that, with Sproul benched, I’m glad that Nick Jensen is getting his own opportunity. That makes a lot more sense to me than Lashoff playing.
There are two things about the small sample size that these guys have to prove themselves that have been rattling around in my head.
#1 – Lets say that Sproul plays a full season, fills in well, but is otherwise unspectacular. Hey, a kid stepped into the NHL and proved he belonged and that’s good, right? Yeah, but don’t throw a four-year deal at him all of the sudden. Looking at you, Brian Lashoff.
#2 – Jared Coreau is a great story. Two wins in his first three NHL starts after he started his pro career going a full year without a win. He’s probably going to start the Centennial Classic and, given Petr Mrazek‘s struggles, he probably should. But you know who else won two out of his first three starts for the Red Wings? Norm Maracle. Just saying, lets not get ahead of ourselves proclaiming him the starter or anything.