Welcome back to another edition of Wings Weekly, a weekly review of the Red Wings 2017-18 season! The Wings had a light week after a heavy road trip the week before. First, they looked for retribution from the Calgary Flames after the 6-3 pounding they suffered at the Flames’ hands last week. Then, they played the second-last place Buffalo Sabres. One thing’s for sure: the Wings showed up to win this week. And win they did.
With Martin Frk out of the lineup with a groin injury, Detroit started their week without one of their top point-producers of the season. That didn’t stop them from scoring goals against Calgary as they romped the Flames in an 8-2 victory. Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou each had two goals and an assist and Dylan Larkin added a goal and two assists of his own, combining for five of the Wings’ eight goals. By the end of the game, though, nobody was talking about the young players’ offensive performance.
Around the five minute mark of the third period, Luke Witkowski dropped the gloves with rookie Brett Kulak and was ejected from the game. On his way off the ice and into the tunnel, Matthew Tkachuk gave him a small tap to the back of the leg. Witkowski took exception to this and came back out onto the ice, starting a line brawl between the two teams that prompted Jimmy Howard to get involved and Anthony Mantha to dance with Travis Hamonic. Here is the full video of what went down, courtesy of hockeyfights.com:
Both the offense and the brawling at the game were good signs for the Red Wings. It showed that they were willing to back each other up on the scoreboard and on the ice. This kind of support and camaraderie goes a long way for team morale.
In the fallout, Luke Witkowski was suspended for ten games for coming back onto the ice after being ordered to the dressing room. It’s a black and white rule in the book that doesn’t leave room for interpretation. On Calgary’s side, Matthew Tkachuk was suspended for one game for his role in the whole affair.
After the Calgary game, it was announced that both Darren Helm and Trevor Daley were battling injuries. With Witkowski and Frk already out of the lineup, Detroit had to call up a Griffin in case Helm and Daley couldn’t go against Buffalo on Friday. They called up Brian Lashoff because of the uncertainty. If Helm or Daley were able to play, which they both were, then the Wings didn’t want someone like Joe Hicketts sitting in the press box when he could have been playing with the Griffins.
It was a good thing that Helm played, too, because he set up Luke Glendening for the opening goal late in the first period. It was Glendening’s fifth goal of the season and second in as many games. Thanks to some great special teams play, Detroit was able to build momentum and control the play against a struggling Sabres team. They won 3-1 off of goals by Glendening, Larkin, and Tomas Tatar, extending their record in their last six games to 4-1-1.
The Regular Stats
It was a busy week offensively for the Wings as they outscored their opponents 11-3. The kids led the offensive charge with two goals each. Larkin just narrowly pulled ahead of the other two in the points race with an extra assist. Needless to say, the game against Calgary was a standout for these three.
Luke Glendening has got himself an impressive two game goal streak. Currently, he has as many goals on the season as Tomas Tatar (5) and has surpassed his goal total from last year. Speaking of Tatar, he came up big again this week with the game winner against the Sabres. Him and Nyquist haven’t been incredibly productive, but they are hitting the scoreboard a couple of times a week.
Henrik Zetterberg recorded a single point this week in the game against Calgary. His production has really slowed as Mantha and Larkin’s has sped up. He’s still top-5 on the team, but expect him to fall out of it as Athanasiou continues to produce and Tatar and Nyquist pick up their offensive game.
Mike Green added another three points this week to bring his total on the season to 17, securing himself the third place spot on the team. If I’m Ken Holland, I’m taking trade calls on Green right now. In the final year of his contract, Green is sure to be dealt by the trade deadline, but you might as well sell him now as his value is so high.
The Fancy Stats
Detroit’s Corsi-For percentage plummeted to a measly 40.26% against Calgary. It’s kind of funny considering the final score, but the team scored four powerplay goals and one shorthanded. 63% of their goals were due to special teams. The first period was pretty even, but Calgary owned the 5v5 play in the second and third periods.
The team bounced back big time against Buffalo for one of their better 5v5 games of the season, posting a 56.52 CF%. They built some momentum with the man advantage and carried it through to their 5v5 play, suppressing the Sabres in the neutral zone and keeping the play going in the other direction. It was masterful and a well-deserved win.
Individually, Dylan Larkin drove 5v5 play the best relative to his teammates. He’s second only to Henrik Zetterberg in time on ice per game played among all Red Wings forwards, playing in all situations. Speaking of Henrik Zetterberg, everybody was better than him this week. His linemate, Gustav Nyquist, finds himself at the bottom of the chart with him. What’s interesting is that the third member of that line, Anthony Mantha, has a positive relative Corsi-For percentage. Mantha has been playing a better game away from Henrik Zetterberg this year. Maybe it’s time we bring The Kid Line back?
Though Mike Green is one of our best offensive players, he continues to struggle defensively, leading the team in giveaways (32) and on-ice scoring chances against (187 at 5v5, per Natural Stat Trick).
Frans Nielsen had a positive week as he had good games playing with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening. The three have been playing so well together that it appears Jeff Blashill will be keeping them together for the time being.
— Wings Nation (@thewingsnation) November 18, 2017
If the Coyotes could have only beat Ottawa in regulation Saturday afternoon, the Wings would still be holding down that third place spot. They’re going to have to fight their way into that spot with Montreal, Boston, and Ottawa if they want to make the playoffs, because I have a sneaky feeling both wild card spots are going to go to the Metropolitan Division. Speaking of Ottawa, their reliance on the loser point (OTL) is not sustainable and they’re going to have to find ways to win more games if they want to hold that spot down. They’re not even at .500 right now.
Contrast that with Toronto whose 28 points have all come in regulation. The Leafs were impressive this week, going 4-0-0 without their superstar center Auston Matthews in the lineup. They stomped Montreal in a 6-0 victory Saturday night, which is helpful for the Wings as the Canadiens are right on their heels. Boston is another watch-out as they downed the Sharks on Saturday 3-1. Rounding out the bottom of the division (still) are the Panthers and Sabres. If these teams don’t go on a run (they won’t), they’ll be out of it for good pretty soon.
Like they did against the Sabres, the Wings need to keep winning against their division rivals, especially those in the race with them. Any chance they get to put more space between them and the Senators, Bruins, and Canadiens, they have to take. It will be crucial for their success down the line.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s player of the week is Luke Glendening. With goals in both of the games this week, Glendening’s little scoring streak helped lift the Wings over the Sabres on Friday night. Plus, I feel like he never really got the credit he deserves for this amazing snipe against the Arizona Coyotes earlier this season.
Just thinking about Luke Glendening's two goals this week and remembered this beauty against the Coyotes earlier this season. pic.twitter.com/SbFN90MCg3
— Nick (@nickseguin19) November 18, 2017
On the cusp of catching the ever dreadful injury bug, the Wings managed two big victories on home ice this week. They went 4 for 11 on the powerplay (36%) and Jimmy Howard posted a .938 save percentage to lead the charge.
It was nice seeing some old time hockey back in Detroit, something we haven’t seen since the late-90s when the Grind Line would wreak havoc on their opponents. For the fans, it’s exciting (and keeps butts in seats at Little Caesars Arena) and for the players, it’s encouraging. They need to continue to build on this momentum as they move into the next week, which is an incredibly busy one.
The Wings play four games next week, three of which are on home ice:
Sunday, November 19 – vs. Colorado Avalanche, 6:00 P.M. ET
Wednesday, November 22 – vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7:00 P.M. ET
Friday, November 24 – @ New York Rangers, 7:00 P.M. ET
Saturday, November 25 – vs. New Jersey Devils, 7:00 P.M. ET
As always, stay tuned to WingsNation.com for pre-game and post-game reports all week.