Welcome to another edition of Wings Weekly, a weekly review of the 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season! With the Thanksgiving Holiday falling in the middle of the week, this was a busy one for the NHL. Detroit had four games on the schedule, concluding with a back-to-back against the New York Rangers in Manhattan and the New Jersey Devils back in Detroit. They went to overtime three times this week and some players hit some milestones along the way.
Detroit didn’t win a single game this week, though they collected three points. Against Colorado last Sunday, they blew a two goal lead in the third period and then lost in overtime. Then, they played the Oilers on Tuesday in one of their worst performances of the season. The Oilers themselves were coming off of an 8-3 loss the night before and they unleashed on the Red Wings, with Connor McDavid collecting two points and running Jimmy Howard out of the net in the second period. It was an uninspiring performance by all of the Wings and it prompted Jeff Blashill to publicly call out Anthony Mantha after the game.
Jeff Blashill had harsh words for young Wings, especially one: "Anthony Mantha has got to be way better. Way better. It's not OK to just be a passenger when you are given the opportunity to be an impact player."
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) November 23, 2017
The Wings next game was against the Rangers on Friday and it was definitely one of the most entertaining of the season. The game was a duel of the goaltenders as Jimmy Howard, who has an unreal .953 save percentage at Madison Square Garden, and Henrik Lundqvist kept the game scoreless until the third period. Tomas Tatar scored first on the powerplay and Chris Kreider responded a few minutes later to tie it up. The game went to overtime where Mats Zuccarello was left all alone in front of the net and sniped one past Howie.
— Nick (@nickseguin19) November 25, 2017
Bad play by Dylan Larkin there, but the team had to put the loss behind them as they had to head back to Detroit for a game against the Devils the following night. David Booth drew into the lineup Saturday night as Trevor Daley was out with an upper-body injury caused by a collision at centre ice in the Rangers game.
In this game, it was Detroit who had the late third period push as they were down 3-1 and forced overtime. In OT, Brian Gibbons ended it when he picked up a Nick Jensen pass that never made it out of the zone. David Booth scored two goals (including his first as a Red Wing) and Henrik Zetterberg recorded one assist to take sole possession of 6th place on the Red Wings all time scoring list.
datsyuk 918 https://t.co/neyccdjjTb
— gregg krupa (@greggkrupa) November 26, 2017
The Regular Stats
There are some unlikely candidates in the top-10 this week, such as Niklas Kronwall, David Booth, and Xavier Ouellet. For the first time this year, none of the young stars are in the top-5 of weekly point-getters. Instead, Justin Abdelkader has been flexing his scoring muscle, setting up four goals and netting one of his own. Kronwall had a nice little streak going with goals against Colorado and Edmonton and a powerplay assist in New York. Finally, David Booth drew into one game (against the Devils) and scored twice. It’s a nice little story for the veteran winger.
Abdelkader has clawed his way into the top-5 with his massive five point week and Mike Green is still hanging in there despite not recording a point since his three point night on November 15 against the Calgary Flames. Without the offensive output to balance him out, Green’s defensive gaffes are becoming more obvious. The sooner Holland can unload him in a trade, the higher return they’ll get for him. I have a bad feeling that his value is only going to decrease from here on out.
The Fancy Stats
The Wings got off to a bad start this week with a poor performance against the Avalanche. They had an okay first period but plummeted in the second and third as the Avs took over the game. From there, they were 50%+ in shot attempts against the Oilers, Rangers, and Devils. They were 3 for 11 on the powerplay (27.3%) and 10 for 12 on the penalty kill (83.3%). Their 5v5 play was fine this week, they just couldn’t find the back of the net as they were outscored 16-9.
Justin Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen have benefited from playing with each other. They, along with Darren Helm, have made for one of Detroit’s better lines this week, constantly driving possession and crashing the net. Dylan Larkin once again finds himself at the top of this chart as his consistent 5v5 play continues.
Danny DeKeyser made his debut this week and didn’t do much to improve his play. I know that he gets tough matchups and terrible deployment, but it feels like the Wings are always trapped in their own zone when DeKeyser is on the ice. Despite his three points this week, Zetterberg has been poor at 5v5. It’s important to note that two of those points came on the powerplay as Z continues to struggle. He hasn’t scored a goal since October 18 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the longest scoring drought of his career.
Despite losing all four games this week, Detroit still managed to scrape together three points, which has placed them firmly in third place of the Atlantic Division. This week has given them the second most loser points in the division, which is not a sustainable way to hold the playoff spot, but at this point it’s anybody’s game. Detroit, Boston, Ottawa, or Montreal could all realistically finish there.
Luckily, last night the only Atlantic Division team to gain points was Montreal. Detroit needs to win some games in the coming weeks if they want to hold down that spot in the standings.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Oh captain, my captain.
I know I said his 5v5 play has been poor lately, but Henrik Zetterberg is this week’s player of the game for making history. With his assist on Tomas Tatar’s goal against the Rangers, Z tied Pavel Datsyuk for 6th overall on the Red Wings all time scoring list. Then, with his assist on Booth’s second goal against the Devils, he took possession of 6th place on that list.
It’s a pretty prestigious place to be with names like Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman, and Gordie Howe. Congratulations to our fearless leader for this amazing milestone.
In conclusion, this last week didn’t go exactly how the Red Wings needed it to. They are lucky that they escaped with three points in four games. With Trevor Dailey out day-to-day right now, the guys are going to have to dig deep to get some W’s in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Martin Frk should be making his return soon, which should help them at 5v5 and on the powerplay, but the kids need to pick up their play if they want to get anywhere. Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou need to bounce back this coming week.
After such a heavy holiday week, the Wings will get a bit of a break as they don’t play until Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings. Then, Thursday they play the Montreal Canadiens. This is an important inner-division game if the Wings want to put some distance in the standings between themselves and the Habs. Both games are at home.
Tuesday, November 28 – vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7:30 P.M. ET
Thursday, November 30 – vs. Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 P.M. ET
As always, stay tuned to WingsNation.com for pre-game and post-game reports all week.