Evgeny Svechnikov looking for longer stay in return to Red Wings lineup

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Evgeny Svechnikov was back in the Red Wings’ lineup Tuesday against Carolina. That temporarily soothed an engaged social media segment.

Some want to see Svechnikov in the Wings’ lineup daily, and expressed frustration when he was returned to Grand Rapids for the last three games after earning four points (two goals, two assists) in four games.

Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov is back in the lineup, replacing the injured Bobby Ryan.

With Bobby Ryan unavailable Tuesday (coach Jeff Blashill said Ryan is day-to-day) Svechnikov, 24, was back with the big club.

Svechnikov's offensive production in a small sample size was a key reason he leaped over forwards Mathias Brome, Frans Nielsen and Valtteri Filppula on the depth chart.

“We don’t just judge players simply on production,” said Blashill after Tuesday’s morning skate. “There’s a lot more that goes into the game, certainly beyond just goals and assists and plus/minus, or any of those stats that you can gather easy.

“But production does matter, and the fact he’s a point a game (player) is probably why he’s in the lineup right now ahead of some other guys.”

Svechnikov, a 2015 first-round pick, has played in just 24 NHL games with eight points (four goals, four assists).

Injuries have slowed his development.

What does Svechnikov have to do to gain a foothold in the NHL?

“He needs to make sure he wins every shift, and make sure he’s accountable,” Blashill said. “You have to play as a five-man unit, and as a five-man unit make sure everybody is doing their jobs. He has to make sure he’s doing his job.

“In each particular instance he has to make sure he’s winning battles by skating. If he does that, he can be an effective player.”

One reason Svechnikov has an edge over some of the other inactive forwards is because he can replace Ryan on the power play.

“We’re hoping Svech can fill that role,” Blashill said. “He’s a threat to score. He has a real good shot and we’re hoping some of the things Bobby brings to the table, Svech can help bring those same things.”

Divisional play

With the shortened, 56-game NHL season now past the halfway point, one interesting metric has been winning and losing streaks.

In the East Division, alone, three teams had at least a five-game win streak, while Buffalo had 11 consecutive losses.

Three teams had won three consecutive games in the West, also.

The momentum swings surprised Blashill.

“Just based on the format of playing teams back to back and in some cases, multiple games in a row,” Blashill said. “It’s hard to beat the same team over and over.

“Confidence plays a huge factor in it. Games come one after another and if you get on a bad stretch, you can just find your way to a number of losses, and find ways to lose. It’s probably true of wins, as well.

“Teams don’t get much time to practice, and it’s real hard to get a reset.”

As teams have plunged deeper into their schedules, and have now faced the same opponents multiples times, there's been a growing sense of chippy play.

The Wings have had several games recently against Carolina and Tampa, teams they’ve played often. The level of agitation has been noticeable.

“You see the same teams and you grow sick of each other,” Blashill said. “That’s probably part of it. A lot of guys play against each other, meaning a defense pair against the same forwards, and you play not only against the same team, but the same, specific players a bunch.

“And if they are crosschecking you, and you’re crosschecking them, you get sick of it, just like anyone would.”

Bad timing

Blashill doesn’t feel Ryan’s injury is anything more than in the day-to-day category. But the timing is unfortunate, because Ryan was getting scoring opportunities in recent games.

“It’s unfortunate because Bobby hit a crossbar or post the other night, as well, and he feels like he’s in a spot to hopefully heat up here,” Blashill said. “So being out (of the lineup) isn’t great. But that’s the life of an NHL player.”

Blashill was confident Dylan Larkin, who took a maintenance day for Monday’s practice, would be in Tuesday’s lineup. Larkin missed four games earlier in the month with an upper body injury, but has scored two goals in three games since returning.


Twitter: @tkulfan