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Detroit Red Wings

Anatomy of Detroit Red Wings Defensive Slump



Joe Veleno, Red Wings

Any similarity between today’s Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit squad we saw 24 days ago in Buffalo is purely coincidental. The team that downed the Sabres 5-3 to raise its record to 14-7-3 has disappeared.

As soon as we were starting to appreciate the Red Wings’ playoff potential, it was gone. Since then, coach Derek Lalonde’s team has gone 2-8-1 in 11 games. With the exception of back-to-back low-scoring losses to Carolina and Philadelphia, the team’s defensive play has been leaky at best and amateurish at worst. They have surrendered an average of 4.36 goals per game in those 11 games.

Here’s a closer look at this hard-to-explain run of sloppy defensive play:

Below Average Joe

No forward had a tougher time in this slump than Joe Veleno. He played 10 of the 11 games during this period and was a minus player in nine of those games. He is -12 during the slump and now he’s injured.

Walman Ugliness

Jake Walman has played 10 of the 11 games, missing one with injury, and owns the Detroit defense’s worst plus-minus (-11) during that period. He was a minus player in eight of the 10 games he played. His worst outing was a -3 performance against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reimer Woes

Lalonde went out of his way to point out that James Reimer kept the Red Wings in the game against Minnesota. It was 2-2 in the third period. But Reimer has played two or more periods in five of the 11 games, and didn’t post a save percentage over .878 in any of those appearances. While it’s true Detroit’s sloppy play made it challenging for Reimer, goalies can shine even when teams are playing badly. For example, former Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek had earned praise for his consistent play this season for a Chicago Blackhawks team that is 31st in the NHL standings. Mrazek owns a .911 save percentage.

Wouldn’t Guess This

J.T. Compher is considered the Red Wings’ most responsible top six forward. He’s usually mindful of his defensive role. That’s why it’s somewhat surprising to see him at -4 in the 6-3 loss to Minnesota. Compher has not been his usual self during the slump. At the beginning, he was injured, missing the first five games of this period. But in six games during this slump, Compher is -8. He even had a point against Minnesota and ended up -4.

Average Competition

Of the 11 opponents the Red Wings have faced, six are not currently in a playoff spot and three (San Jose, Anaheim and Ottawa) are among the bottom four in the league. They are 1-4-1 against the non-playoff teams and 0-2-1 against the bottom four teams. The Blues were the only non-playoff team they beat during the slump. Winnipeg, Dallas and Philadelphia (twice) are top 10 teams the Red Wings faced during the slump. One of their two wins came against Philadelphia.

Even Seider Has Slumped

Red Wings fans are accustomed to Seider being a rock on defense to the point that almost seems shocking how often he has made poor decisions or displayed uncharacteristically bad execution during this slump. He’s -8 in these 11 games.

Mr. Consistency?

One oddity of this slump is that Jeff Petry is the only defenseman to be a plus-player during this 11-game slide. You didn’t see that coming, did you? He has played 10 of the games and is +1 during the slump.

Points Didn’t Help

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere put up seven points during the slump, but he still managed to be -9 during this 11-game team slump. Four of his points came on the power play.

Perron Blanked

David Perron, a 25-goal scorer last season, has no points in these 11 games. He was suspended for six of the games and wasn’t on the scoresheet in the other five games. Perron hasn’t scored since netting a pair Nov. 26 against Minnesota.

Fabbri Fades

When Robby Fabbri came back from injury like a force, but he has been unproductive in the latter stages of this slump. He has zero points over the last seven games and was also -4 against Minnesota.