The Detroit Red Wings have some work to do on their special teams.
They were an atrocious 15.1 percent on the power play (27th in the league) and 80.9 percent on the penalty kill (16th). The team also had trouble scoring at five on five — 1.8 goals per game — and that inability to score carried over to the power play.
Part of the reason for the team’s inefficiencies on the power play was a lack of shooting, as evidenced by the 605 shot attempts they took last season, which was 23rd in the league. For perspective, the Philadelphia Flyers led the league with 852 shot attempts.
However, there also were questionable personnel decisions on the power play, with Anthony Mantha (108 minutes) and Andreas Athanasiou (76) receiving less ice time than Justin Abdelkader (145) and Niklas Kronwall (140).
So what should the special teams units look like next season? Here’s what I would suggest.
|Anthony Mantha||Henrik Zetterberg||Tomas Tatar|
|Gustav Nyquist||Mike Green|
|Dylan Larkin||Frans Nielsen||Justin Abdelkader|
|Andreas Athanasiou||Trevor Daley|
I opted to go with four forwards and one defenseman on each unit, as it has been proven that a 4F-1D power-play setup leads to more scoring chances than a 3F-2D setup.
The first unit sports the team’s top scorers from last season in Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist. It also sports a good mix of shoot-first players and pass-first players, which should help open up passing and shooting lanes.
On the second unit, I opted to use Trevor Daley over Niklas Kronwall. Daley had nearly 100 minutes of power play time with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, scoring a goal and adding three assists. He certainly isn’t a power-play specialist, but he’ll be an upgrade over Kronwall, who can’t quarterback a power play like he used to be able to.
In addition to a lack of shooting, the Red Wings stood around on the power play, making it very easy for the opposing team to defend. If they can get some movement and attempt to pull defenders out of position, they should have more success with the man advantage.
|Frans Nielsen||Darren Helm|
|Nick Jensen||Danny DeKeyser|
|Luke Glendening||Andreas Athanasiou|
|Trevor Daley||Xavier Ouellet|
The penalty kill units were tough, as the Red Wings’ blue line is lacking severely. Danny DeKeyser, with a $5-million cap hit, is being paid like a No. 1 defensemen, but he certainly hasn’t played like one. I’m skeptical of putting him on the first PK unit, but the Red Wings don’t have better options at this point.
Daley played about 134 minutes of PK time with the Penguins last season, allowing 15 goals, which is pretty good.
I’d like to see the Red Wings use Athanasiou on the PK. Not only will it help with his defensive game, but I think his speed could help disrupt opposing power plays, making it hard for the other team to set up and, in turn, help force turnovers.
The Red Wings’ special teams will look awfully similar to last season, but it will be interesting to see if a new philosophy is adopted in order to give the younger players more ice time and more opportunites to create scoring chances on the power play.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise stated.