Lebda will be filling in for Ericsson sooner rather than later.
What are the Red Wings going to do about Jonathan Ericsson?
This has become an extremely delicate issue for coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland.
Ericsson, who turned 26 on Tuesday, is a big (6-foot-4), highly skilled defenseman who burst upon the scene during the playoffs last season and played nearly flawless hockey.
But a funny thing happened on his way to the Hall of Fame. He has stumbled mightily in his first full NHL season. The rigors of playing such a heavy, condensed schedule have worn him down physically and the mounting mistakes seem to be at the point of ruining him mentally.
How much longer can the Wings afford to keep running him out there? At what point does his confidence get shattered beyond repair?
Ericsson is a team-worst minus-18. He's minus-12 over his last 14 games. He was on the ice for both Colorado goals Monday. His errant pass up the boards led directly to the second goal. There was a stretch in the second period where his mistakes and turnovers helped trigger three odd-man rushes.
Are all these goals his fault? No, of course not. The Avs' second goal Monday was one of the softest Jimmy Howard has allowed in a while. But bad things are happening way too often when Ericsson is on the ice.
It got to the point Monday where Babcock essentially rotated two pairs of defensemen in the third period.
So what do the Wings do?
They have been trying most of the season to let him work through it, but it keeps getting worse and worse and the Wings are at a point in the season where they can't afford to give away any games, lest they risk missing the playoffs.
In a perfect world, the Wings would send him to Grand Rapids to regain some of his swagger. But with his size and potential, he would never clear waivers. The Wings are trying to rescue him, not lose him.
So, the next option is to bench him. Make him a healthy scratch for a while. That's probably going to happen sooner rather than later, but they are trying to buy some time for Andreas Lilja to work off the rust and get himself back up to NHL speed.
The next question, should they decide to shut Ericsson down, is for how long? Do they shut him down for the rest of the season? Rotate Lilja, Brett Lebda and Derek Meech on that third defense pairing?
Is that even the best option for a young player with plummeting confidence?
If I had the answers to these questions, I would be asking Mike Ilitch for a job. I am not sure there's any hockey or psych manual anywhere that can offer concrete answers to this dilemma. All I know is what I see on the ice, and what I see is a young, talented player drowning in his own self-doubt.
Most young defensemen go through these slumps and many lose their confidence at some point. The good ones, the ones who survive to become veteran defenseman, figure out a way to get it back.
In the end, it will be up to Ericsson to provide the answers. It's on him to shake this off, make something good happen for himself and get back to being the trustworthy blue-liner the Red Wings think he is.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/a...h#ixzz0h9XU3myQ