How badly has the NHL season come apart for the Detroit Red Wings? Let’s count the ways.
Over the past 17 games, they’ve allowed 87 goals. That works out to 5.12 goals against per game. They are 3-11-3 during that stretch.
With so much leakage, where does the patchwork begin to try and get the ship afloat again? Well, here are five areas of Detroit’s game in need of immediate attention.
Red Wings Losing Special Teams Battle
The power play hasn’t been bad – 20.8% (10-of-48) but the penalty kill has been abysmal.
Overall, it’s 57.7% (26-of-45) over this 17-game stretch and it’s getting worse, if you can believe it. The PK is 42.9% (6-of-13) through the past five games. The Wings have won the special teams battle in just three of the past 17 games and in one of the past 10 games.
Austin Watson opens the scoring short-handed! #GoSensGo
Great play by who other than Mathieu Joseph to set it up. pic.twitter.com/5ROAvc76kG
— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) April 1, 2022
In Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Detroit was afforded an early power-play opportunity. However, Sens forward Austin Watson tallied while shorthanded to open the scoring.
“You get a power play early and you give up a shorty,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. There’s a deflation in that.”
Learn How To Finish
In recent losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers, the Wings were leading by a goal with five minutes left in regulation. They gave up a power-play goal in each game and then lost in overtime.
CHRIS KREIDER’S 46TH FOR THE TIE!!!!
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) March 31, 2022
“At the end of the day, we have the lead late, we gotta find a way to kill that penalty,” Blashill said.
Starting On Time
In each of the last three games, the Wings were down 1-0 before the game was six minutes old.
Friday, longtime Red Wings TV analyst Mickey Redmond’s suggestion is that it was long past time that the team simplified the first period.
Start the opening period by simply getting the puck out and getting pucks deep. Don’t even worry about creating something. Put the focus on surviving the first 10 minutes.
“It’s an area we got to continue to work on,” Detroit forward Sam Gagner said. “Teams coming in fighting for points, regardless of where teams are in the standings, whoever we’re playing against, we have to find a way to start on time and be a good first-period team.”
Shoot The Puck
A commonly-heard refrain from the Red Wings was again back in vogue following Friday’s loss. Once again, their shooting mentality was MIA.
“I think there’s been times this year where we’ve had a real good mentality of it and times when we haven’t,” Blashill said. [Friday] was one of those nights. We always wanted to look for a perfect play instead of just shoot it.
“We needed to have a better shooting mentality and be harder at the net for sure.”
Where Did Red Wings’ Home-Ice Advantage Go?
One factor that was more definitely an area of strength for the Red Wings through the first three months of the season was that they’d fashioned a legitimate home-ice edge. They were turning Little Caesars Arena into a tough place for visitors to find away to leave with two points.
The Wings were 11-3-2 through their first 16 home games of the 2021-22 campaign. Since then, they’ve gone 6-9-3 at home.
“We want to build to be a team that this is a really hard building to come into,” Gagner said. “Hasn’t been good enough lately.”
They haven’t won back-to-back home games since Dec. 14-18.
“We’re trying to grind away and we gotta find a way to get that joy back in our game and play with more energy,” Blashill said. “We gotta make sure that we find a way to have more energy and claw our way out of it.”