Welcome back for another edition of Wings Weekly, a weekly review of the 2017-18 Detroit Red Wings season! As November faded to December, the Wings’ last win faded with it. The team hasn’t given the home crowd at Little Caesars Arena to cheer for as they haven’t logged a W in the arena in five home games, since November 17.
This week, the Los Angeles Kings came to town, followed by an important inner-division home-and-home against the Montreal Canadiens. The losing streak went from four games to seven as both teams completely dominated the Red Wings.
The Kings took advantage of a late-period powerplay in the second to score twice in two minutes and run away with the game, winning it 4-1. Jonathan Quick was excellent, turning away 23 of 24 Red Wings shots, but Detroit’s defense did them in, allowing 36 shots on Jimmy Howard.
Trevor Daley made his return in the team’s first game against Montreal. They played a good first period, closing it out with the lead in shots, shot attempts, and goals. Once again, they fell apart in the second, allowing three goals and forfeiting the lead. The Habs would close the game out at a score of 6-3, receiving some help from Jonathan Ericsson who banged their last goal into his own net. There was some bad luck involved in this game, but Jimmy Howard’s play of late has been less than stellar and it’s resulted in lots of goals.
Detroit’s roster was finally full for the second game against Montreal as Marty Frk made his return. Blashill put him on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist to try and get them going, as Frk has been surprisingly good at 5v5 this year and Z and Nyquist have not.
Frk actually played a good game according to the fancy stats, but Detroit fell big time to the Habs in a 10-1 defeat. Mrazek started the game and was pulled around the halfway mark. Both goalies let in five goals on a combined 34 shots, while Detroit managed a weak 23 shots on Carey Price. While it’s easy to assign blame to the goaltenders, the Red Wings really left them out to dry this game. Lazy back checking and passive defensive zone play were the result of most of the goals against. Detroit is also having a very hard time exiting their zone this year. It’s been a big part of many of their goals against.
The Regular Stats
In a week where the Wings were outscored 20-5, there aren’t that many points to hand out. Glendening found the back of the net again, bringing his goal tally to 6. That’s already half of his career high. Anthony Mantha got back on the scoreboard after a short lull and Mike Green scored another bringing his points tally for the season to 18. Dylan Larkin also continued to produce with points in two of this week’s game. Both were assists, but fret not, Larkin is poised for a scoring breakout sometime soon.
Larkin took sole possession of leading the team in points this week. Mantha, Athanasiou, and Frk still find themselves in the top-10, proving how important the youth movement has been to Detroit’s offense. Abdelkader has continued to impress this year with his 5v5 play and on the powerplay. His time on the third line with Frans Nielsen and Darren Helm has been beneficial for all three players on the score sheet and in their fancy stats.
The Fancy Stats
The story of Detroit’s Corsi this season has been inconsistency. Up, down, up, down, up, down… They will need to find some consistency in their play if they want to win more games. This week, they fell below 45% against the Kings, but were over 50% in the terrible games against the Canadiens. While these shot attempts are important, it’s equally important to put the puck on net. They have a 48.41% 5v5 shots-for percentage (23rd in the league) and 29.88 5v5 shots for per sixty minutes (19th in the league). More shots will result in more goals. That’s just science.
I mentioned the Abby, Nielsen, and Helm line earlier. All three are positive Corsi-For players relative to their teammates. Larkin and Frk have also been beasts at 5v5, something that is translating to the scoresheet. Players of concern are Henrik Zetterberg, Andreas Athanasiou, and Mike Green. All three of these guys are players the team relies on a tremendous amount to contribute to the on-ice results. They need to be closer to the top of this chart.
When I wrote this report last week, Detroit was still third in the division. Now, having lost four points to a division rival, they have fallen to fifth, a whole four points out of the third place spot. Winning games doesn’t become more important than right now. They are quickly falling out of the picture with Florida and Buffalo. They need to start climbing again.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s Motor City MVP is Dylan Larkin for finding himself at the top of most of my charts today. Larkin has been Detroit’s best player as of late, playing with energy at 5v5, 5v4, and 4v5. He can be relied upon to hit the scoresheet in a time when nobody else is hitting the scoresheet. Now, if only he could lift us out this slump…
It was a dire week for Wings Nation. The Red Wings are at an important crossroads right now, where they should be selling off players for assets. Today, they moved Scott Wilson to Buffalo for a 5th round pick in 2019. Good. Keep ‘em coming. This week was an embarrassment and the team should feel terrible about their uninspiring play.
Only two games on the slate for next week as Detroit starts a five game homestand. They are against two very good Western Conference teams that are at the top of their respective divisions. The Wings better get their act together because these teams will tear them apart worse than the Habs did.
Tuesday, December 5 – vs. Winnipeg Jets, 7:30 P.M. ET
Saturday, December 9 – vs. St. Louis Blues, 1:00 P.M. ET