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the World According to JR

Avery where he should be, Red Wings not so much

Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 2:31 PM

By Jeremy Roenick - NHL Network Contributor / World According to JR

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from the "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick will offer sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

The Rangers recalled a guy who could and should help them, and the dynastic team in Hockeytown is going down an unfamiliar path. Read on to see what I think about Sean Avery and the Detroit Red Wings.

What's clicking?

In my opinion, Sean Avery never should have left -- he never should have been sent down by the New York Rangers. He's a National Hockey League player, but unfortunately you don't get to see Sean's real talents all the time because he does so many things with his mouth that it takes away from not only his ability, but his team's persona.

One bad egg in terms of your attitude can really stand out on a team and give a team a reputation. You can see that Sean has been trying to tone it down, but he still seems to find his way into getting himself into verbal trouble with certain people.

Sean Avery (Getty Images)
I understand that's part of his makeup. I get that Sean believes his role is to antagonize and get in other people's faces. But I also truly believe that he should concentrate on just playing the game because he really can play it well.

Sean is a beautiful skater, a very good stickhandler, and he's a smart player. He can do many more beneficial things for the Rangers than just be a pain in the butt.

I give credit to coach John Tortorella and the Rangers for bringing him back to provide some energy and perhaps spark the team. That's honorable and they are doing what is best for the hockey club. If I was Sean Avery, I would take this as a gift, almost as a second chance, third chance, or however many chances he's had.

The thing is, though, Sean Avery's game has slipped in the last year and I imagine he would tell you the same thing. How many goals did he score in the second half of last season? How many points did he get in the second half of last season? His performance dropped and all of a sudden he wasn't so noticeable.

Sean Avery has to be noticeable every night. He has to have a presence every night.

He is a talented hockey player and he belongs in the NHL. Now he needs to use his talent to be a positive on the New York Rangers because they are much better with Sean Avery than without him.

What's missing?

This is foreign territory for the Detroit Red Wings, who are winless in five straight. For years and years I have seen Detroit just play very strong, very disciplined, very organized hockey. Yes, they have been on losing streaks and bad stretches, but I have never seen them play as disoriented as they have at the beginning of this season.

For some reason, they are not clicking. For some reason, they are not scoring goals as often as they did. Their power play, which was one of the scariest things to go up against, is anemic. They're less than 15 percent on the power play, and that's been their bread and butter for years and years.

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have had very slow starts. Both seem to be slower to me for some reason. Datsyuk doesn't have the jump and Zetterberg isn't all over the ice like I'm used to seeing. The only guy who I think has just continued to play steady hockey is Nicklas Lidstrom.

Henrik Zetterberg
Left Wing - DET
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 47 | +/-: -4
To go against Minnesota and only score two goals in two games, and allow Minnesota to come back and win the way it did in overtime Tuesday night -- well, that's very un-Detroit-like. It's usually the other way around. Detroit buries teams. Detroit comes back when they're down late in games. Detroit is never out of it.

Now it just seems that the Red Wings' puck movement is off and their positioning is off. I think coach Mike Babcock needs to sit the team down and really go over their systems, go over what has made the Detroit Red Wings so good for so long, and get back to the basics with the team, because when things start going downhill, it's very difficult to turn them around both mentally and physically.

Even in saying all that, people need to understand that I still think the Red Wings will have a good season, that they will make the playoffs. This is a dynasty team that can still do it, but they need to nip this in the bud right now.

You can't have Pavel Datsyuk, who has won the Selke Trophy multiple times, be a minus-5. You have to get your top guys going; but if your top guys aren't doing it, you can't find your second-tier and third-tier guys sputtering, too.

That's what is happening right now with the Detroit Red Wings. It can't continue.

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory