Inconsistency is a problem that plagues most rebuilding teams, including the Detroit Red Wings. The team looks ready to take on the world in one game and like mistake-prone amateurs the next game. The hardest aspect of coming together as a team is being able to replicate good efforts from game to game.
We saw that with the Red Wings’ back-to-back game against Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Jeff Blashill’s squad raised its level to post an impressive 3-2 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They Penguins were 17-2-1 in their last 20 games coming into the meeting against Detroit.
The next night the Red Wings blew a 4-2 lead, giving up five goals in the third period. If you were watching that game, you could feel the collapse coming.
The Red Wings have 46 games and here’s what right and what’s wrong today
Right: Larkin and Bertuzzi Playing Briliantly
Captain Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi are playing the best hockey of their careers. Larkin seems in command when he’s on the ice. He has raised his compete level. Bertuzzi has shown more skill. He isn’t just jamming home rebounds. Bertuzzi is scoring off the rush more than he has in the past, like the goal he scored against Toronto.
They were strong together. But Blashill made the right call moving Bertuzzi to the second. He has raised that line’s level of play. The first line hasn’t been as productive without Bertuzzi. Lucas Raymond has been quieter, but that has nothing to do with Bertuzzi. Raymond is a rookie adjusting his game to as the season progresses.
Tyler Bertuzzi sacrificing his body. pic.twitter.com/3RRCFoqAQB
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) January 30, 2022
With or without Bertuzzi, Larkin has made things happen. When Jakob Vrana returns, he could end up playing with Larkin and Raymond. Or, Bertuzzi can come back to the top line and Vrana can play on the second line with Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri.
Wrong: The Red Wings’ defensive coverage
Defensive lapses are at the heart of the team’s overall inconsistency. The Red Wings are too sloppy in the defensive zone; they surrender too many prime scoring chances. According to Hockey Reference, only five teams have given up more dangerous scoring chances than the Red Wings.
Fans blame much on Danny DeKeyser’s loss of mobility, but the defensive problem is a group effort. Veteran Nick Leddy hasn’t been as sound as the Red Wings hoped he would be. He’s -26. While it’s true that plus-minus isn’t always a true reflection of what is happening on the ice, no other defensemen is worse than -13.
Filip Hronek is the -13 and he has had some struggles this season. Much like his team. he’s been inconsistent. DeKeyser is -9. Gus Lindstrom is -1. Jordan Oesterle is -1.
Right: Rookie Moritz Seider’s season
Notice that I didn’t mention Moritz Seider in the last section. For sure, he makes some mistakes. He’s a rookie still trying to figure out how needs to play in every situation.
But the Red Wings are thrilled with his performance level. He’s at -1 and he’s playing 22:35 per game. Seider is already the team’s No. 1 defenseman. He has posted 29 points and plays a smart, composed and tenacious style. He will be more beligerent as he matures. But even as a rookie he doesn’t shy away from any confrontation. Ask Sidney Crosby.
SEIDER AND CROSBY GETTING INTO IT 👀
— Barstool Detroit (@BSMotorCity) January 29, 2022
Seider is playing like he like the NHL Rookie of Year. Raymond has also been highly impressive, but Seider simply can help in mor eways.
Wrong: Other Young Players Aren’t Stepping up
The was the year Filip Zadina was supposed to develop into a 20-goal scorer. It hasn’t happened. We know Joe Veleno can play in the NHL. But we don’t know if he will be a scorer. Michael Rasmussen has made strides as a checking center. But he only has four goals. You can’t be another Jordan Staal with four goals.
Givani Smith has started to contribute as a physical player. But he has three goals. Adam Erne has four goals. He’s not playing like he did last season. The Red Wings are not getting enough scoring out of their bottom six forwards.
Right: Prospect Collection is Impressive
Hockey people are saying that Simon Edvinsson may have as much impact next season as Seider is having. The Swedish defenseman takes more risks than Seider does. He’s an impressive skater who likes to carry the puck deep into the zone. He makes things happen offensively.
Forward Jonatan Berggren is progressing in Grand Rapids. What if he’s ready next season? Nice problem for the Red Wings to have. Defenseman Donovan Sebrango is also improving in Grand Rapids. Multiple players will be coming over from Europe to start next season in Grand Rapids.
Wrong: The Red Wings Must be Harder to Play Against
Would not be surprised if the Red Wings are trying to add some size and belligerence in the upcoming draft. As well, GM Steve Yzerman also look for some physical players with skill in the free agent market place.
Red Wings opponents also believe that Yzerman is hunting for a veteran second pairing defenseman who can mentor the young defensemen and be steady defensively. Those guys are hard to find. But that won’t stop Yzerman from trying.
Right: Alex Nedeljkovic is Now Part of the Rebuild
The Red Wings like how he has performed, appreciate his competitiveness and his puck-moving skills. He has been an above-average goalie who has kept the team competitive on nights when they were not at their best.
Wrong: Special Teams
The power play has looked better lately. But 46 games in, the power play ranks 27th and the penalty killing is 23rd. They’ve been working at it for five months and they are still among the worst in the NHL on special teams.