DETROIT — Today’s NHL has the statistical expertise to take deep dives into what is happening with a team’s offensive production or defensive performance. Advanced statistics can amplify what’s going on with all teams, including the Detroit Red Wings.
But sometimes it’s basic defensive stats that tell the story.
In December, the Red Wings played 15 games, gave up an average of 4.26 goals per game and went 5-9-1. In January, they have played 12 games and surrendered 2.5 goals per game. Their record is 9-2-1 in those 12. The secret sauce here is Alex Lyon’s goaltending. He has a .924 save percentage in 11 starts in January. But the team’s defensive commitment is also at a higher level.
The 2.5 goals per game yield has lowered the team’s season GAA to 3.22. That still ranks them 22nd out of 32 teams.
“It’s been an effort,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “It was pretty obvious if we want a push, any kind of success whatsoever, we need to cut down on our goals against. Again, some practice time. I think a little mentality from the group, taking some pride in it, and it’s been successful of late.”
The Red Wings have given up two or fewer goals in each of their last five wins and six of their last seven in January. In December, the Red Wings gave up five or more goals seven times.
“We don’t want to give up three, four, five, or six in any game, ” Detroit defenseman Moritz Seider said. ” We’re not doing that on purpose. I think that has been kind of the message in the last 2-3 weeks is two (goals against) or less. I think we’re doing a good job of containing people and being harder around our own net. Boys are getting in front of pucks. Alex is playing great. Obviously that’s a big statement for us, is the two or less.”
Welcome back to the goal column, Mo Seider! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/oSgu9JtCbU
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 26, 2024
Everyone is chipping in better defensive play. Olli Maatta is +7 in January and Justin Holl is +3.
By playing stingy defense, the Red Wings have built a five-point lead for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. They are only one point out of third place.
“These are the kind of meaningful games we want to play, we want to be in and we want to battle hard,” Seider said.
The added importance in that trend is that it would also serve the team well if they can make the postseason.
“Probably the message into the Tampa game, this push we’ve had of late has earned you guys important games towards the second half of the season,” Lalonde said. ” We’re going to have to learn to get comfortable in them. We’re in the midst of it now. I thought we handled it fairly well.”