Kings vs. Red Wings: Three questions with Winging it in Motown
J.J. from Kansas stops by and gives us the scoop on Brunner, life after Lidstrom, and more.
What's been going on with Detroit lately? J.J. from Kansas answers our three burning questions before tonight's matchup.
You can also see his questions for me and find out who I think would win a Sutter/Babcock barfight over at Winging it in Motown.
1. One of your European scouts had an eye on Damien Brunner back in 2011, and boy is that ever paying off. What do you think makes him so effective?
My favorite thing about Brunner has been how hard he skates. He's made some mistakes trying to get too fancy to improve a shooting angle and he's not great defensively, but when he's after the puck, he's dogged. Despite his upbringing on the bigger surface, he's got a great sense for how to make small-but-subtle passes to get the puck to areas where people are skating through the neutral zone. What he's most well-known for is his willingness to shoot. I was honestly a little worried from watching highlight videos that he was merely taking advantage of inferior goaltending overseas, but he's doing a pretty good job of making NHL goalies look silly as well.
After failing to land a true #1 guy, Detroit's plan was to put together a blueline corps made entirely of 2nd-pairing guys (and a few 3rd-pairing-at-best guys). They've performed better than people expected although the numbers aren't bearing that out because of subpar goaltending and some (not all) iffy coverage by the forwards. If I had to give them a rating out of 10, I'm probably sitting at a 6 overall and an 8 for compared-to-expectations.
3. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are still stalwarts, of course, but Detroit has a lot of good young players in their system. Who excites you the most right now?
Tomas Tatar got called up on what might have been his "last shot" to earn a spot with the Wings before being either forgotten or frustrated enough to head to the KHL this summer. He's taken advantage of that opportunity very well putting up 3 goals and dominating lower-level competition since his call-up. He's an "undersized" European who hits people, dangles, makes great passes, and loves to shoot. I'm really excited for him and think he's not far from earning his way into the top six.