As with all Detroit sports teams, the Detroit Red Wings are expected to perform well every single year. The Red Wings, even more so than other teams like the Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, and even Detroit Tigers.
The start of a great season is the first month of the year. While it is never truly indicative of a team's performance the rest of the year, it is a crucial time for many organizations, as adjustments can, and should, be made somewhat based on the first month of the season. With new coach Jeff Blashill and top young talent such as Dylan Larkin, this adjustment time is even more crucial than ever before to a Red Wings team who has been slightly below .500 so far this season including an overtime loss to the Calgary Flames.
Gustav Nyquist, Teemu Pulkinnen (playing in his first full season with the main club), and Justin Abdelkader, an experienced veteran who has already won a Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008 are tied for the team lead with four goals so far this season. Captain Henrik Zetterberg leads the team with 11 points (two goals and nine assists), and budding superstar rookie Dylan Larkin has also made a major impact earning seven points (five assists and two goals) through his first nine career NHL games. Larkin also leads the team in plus minus, with a plus eight rating.
While Larkin, Pulkinnen, and others have adjusted well to increased roles with the team in Pavel Datysuk's absence due to injury, there have been some players who need to reflect on this time and adjust to the team's or their new opponents' play styles. Mike Green has underperformed early expectations, along with Landon Ferraro not performing up to standards, and even returning faces such as Luke Glendening (no points and a -1 rating through nine games) and Riley Sheahan (team worst -4 rating, and only one goal and one assist) have under performed expectations that were set last season.
While having Datysuk our certainly doesn't help the Red Wings cause, the Wings need to get much better production from their role players to win key games. Both goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek have 92 percent save percentages so far this season, and a GAA better than 2.75, yet Mrazek is below .500 and Howard (including the overtime loss to the Flames) is sitting at .500 currently.
For the Red Wings to have a successful rest of the year, they must have much better production from their role players. Drew Miller and Jonathan Ericsson in particular stand out as names that could improve along with the aforementioned Green, Ferraro, Glendening and Sheahan. The same six players; Nyquist, Abdelkader, Zetterberg, Larkin, Pulkinnen and Tomas Tatar (who is also having a decent season with two goals and three assists) should not be the only players scoring on this deep and talented a team. Other than the six players mentioned, only four other goals have been scored in nine games by a total of 17 other players who have played at least two games (in most cases even more). Of those four goals scored; only one of them was by a forward, Riley Sheahan. The other three were defenseman Brendan Smith, defenseman Kyle Quincey, and defenseman Jakub Kindl, arguably the three least talented Red Wings defenseman behind Niklas Kronwall, Danny Dekeyser and Mike Green.
Both goaltenders must also keep performing at a very high level to give the team a chance, and the defense must improve it's passing and communication skills throughout the season as expected, while setting things up according to Blashill's gameplan. The head coach must continue prepping his team at a very high level for every single game, and the team must be ready to work for it to make the playoffs 25 straight seasons.