The Detroit Red Wings are bad. That’s no secret. When it comes to terrible, though, the Wings are setting the NHL standard. The bar is low and they’ve managed to stay under it.
Based on cumulative totals over the past five seasons, the Red Wings are the NHL’s worst team and it’s not even close. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Detroit is a combined 131-191-51. That adds up to 313 out of a possible 746 points, or a .420 winning percentage.
The Buffalo Sabres (136-186-49, 321, .433) are the NHL’s No. 30 team over that five-season span. When your team can out-Buffalo the Sabres, you’re truly playing some persistently bad hockey.
The Ottawa Senators (149-180-44, 342, .458), Vancouver Canucks (155-175-41, 351, .473) and New Jersey Devils (150-169-52, 352, .474) round out the bottom five over the past five years.
About to type "Detroit Red Wings stats" into Google, does anyone have a cigarette
— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) February 14, 2020
Detroit occupied one of the bottom-five rungs in the NHL overall standing in each of the past four seasons – 27th last season, 31st in 2019-20, 28th in 2018-1 and 27th in 2017-18. Over that span, only one other NHL club (Buffalo) occupied a bottom-five placing as often as three times.
In 2016-17, the year prior to the Vegas Golden Knights joining the league, the Red Wings managed to barely scrape their way out of the bottom five, finishing 25th in the 30-team NHL.
During this five-year period, Detroit was 31st in goals for (901), 30th in goals against (1,203), 31st on the power play (15.7%), tied for 30th on the penalty kill (77,7%) and 30th in SAT% (47.3). The Wings also posted an NHL-low 88 regulation-time victories.
Worse Than The Dead Wings Era
Not only are the Wings the NHL’s worst over this five-year span, they’ve also assembled the worst five-year stretch in the history of the franchise. During the so-called Dead Wings era, Detroit rated 13th overall in the 18-team NHL from 1973-74 through 1977-78 and 18th overall in the 21-team NHL from 1978-79 through 1982-83.
The closest the team has ever come to being this bad was in the first five years of the franchise. From 1926-27 through 1930-31, Detroit ranked 8th overall among 10 NHL teams.
Are There Signs Of Hope?
In some areas, yes. Last season, Detroit’s winning percentage improved to .429 after being .275 during the 2019-20 campaign. However, that was still well below the club’s .451 win rate in 2018-19.
The penalty kill, the NHL’s worst in 2019-20, jumped up to 22nd overall. However, the power play endured an even worse season. Detroit was 29th with the man advantage in 2019-20. Last season, the Wings’ power play slid to 30th overall.
montreal went from getting swept by the terrible detroit red wings last season to the stanley cup finals this season. that’s some progress
— kait🦦 (@kaitIyndiamond) June 25, 2021
Bottom line? There’s stil going to be a lot of pain for Wings fans to endure before the tide turns significantly in the team’s favor.
Let’s hope the next five-year plan is more effective than the last one.