Forty-one games down, forty-one games to go for the Red Wings, who are entering their bye week 6 points back of the final wild card spot with 3 games in hand (not sure if that’s a good thing, or bad thing). With half the season completed, it’s only fitting to reflect on what our thoughts from pre-season were, gloat about accurate predictions we made, and quietly hide predictions we were inaccurate about (I predicted the Sabres would make the playoffs, if you were wondering). With that being said, some players have exceeded expectations, others not so much. I’d give them all an F-, but unfortunately, I’m not as cruel as some of my old high school teachers were. Skaters with under 20 games played, are excluded.
Justin Abdelkader: C
Abby’s numbers have seen solid improvement when you compare them to last season. Through the same amount of games played, he’s tacked on an additional 8 points. However, his 48.92 CF% at 5v5 isn’t spectacular. Combine that with his inconsistent offensive production and he hasn’t been a reliable player for Detroit to lean on when needed.
Andreas Athanasiou: B
Double A has emerged as a true game-breaker for the Wings, finally taking advantage of his blazing speed. In a recent game versus the Ottawa Senators, he had about a billion breakaways. However, he didn’t fair well playing center and endured a 16 game goal drought. So it’s inconsistency that’s holding him off from getting that extra gold star, but I have a feeling by the end of the season, he’s going to make me look pretty dumb for grading him a B, and I’m okay with that.
Martin Frk: C+
Frk has been a pleasant surprise this season, unexpectedly making the Wings out of camp. His shot has become a useful weapon for the Wings on the powerplay, forcing opponents to adjust. But he’s been basically useless at 5v5, as he ranks last on the team in xGF%. But that should be taken with a grain of salt as he’s playing sheltered minutes and still posting a 2.1 GF/60.
Luke Glendening: B+
Before going down with a hand injury, Glenny was easily Detroit’s best role player. He’s been a key defensive player, as shown by his 59.37% in the faceoff dot, and being the lead dog on the penalty kill. Wings Nation’s Nick Seguin, gave a more in-depth look at just how valuable he’s been this season.
Darren Helm: D+
Helmer, for the most part of the season, has been pretty invisible (except for the occasional muffed breakaway), and he hasn’t had the defensive play to back him up. I wouldn’t say he’s been using his speed effectively, which can be seen with his 4 goals in 40 games.
Dylan Larkin: A
There’s no question D-Boss has been Detroit’s best forward every night. Already surpassing his point totals from last season, he’s doing so while also taking on a defensive role. He’s now a penalty killer, and a good one at that. His 6 goals are mainly just a string of bad luck, as he leads the team in shots on goal.
Anthony Mantha: B+
Mantha has shown flashes of being an elite player this season. He’s easily going to set career highs in goals and points, and his exceptional play early in the season was a massive jump start. But as of late, he’s struggling to find the back of the net and hasn’t always put in his full effort (misuse plays a big factor here).
Frans Nielsen: C-
Nielsen has mainly been used in a defensive role this season. No longer on the powerplay, he’s also being deployed on 58.2% of plays that start in the defensive zone. While he hasn’t been a shut-down player this year, he hasn’t been a liability.
Gustav Nyquist: B
The goose is loose this season! Nyquist quietly is tied for the team lead in goals, and is on pace to score 28 goals, come season’s end. But at the same rate, he leaves me wanting more. There’s more in his tank than what we have seen this season, and it could be coming soon.
Tomas Tatar: B-
Tatar is a tough one here. There are some nights I feel like he’s invisible, but that’s not what the stats show. His 11 goals are setting him up nicely to crack 20 goals for the fourth straight year, and his CF% of 51.01% is third on the team. Yet, I’m still craving to see more consistency out of him.
Henrik Zetterberg: B-
After finding the Fountain of Youth in 2016-17, Hank has had his ups and downs this year. He went 22 games without a goal, but since then, he’s bounced-back, and has sprung to second in team point leaders. He still plays with command in his game, but will have to continue his fight with Father Time.
Trevor Daley: C+
The point totals weren’t initially there for the the Wings big off-season signing, but he’s been reliable in both ends, averaging 20:37 TOI. He’s used his wheels to his advantage and helped transition the puck with ease, as well as take on opponents’ best players, leading the team in TOI% against quality competition. I wouldn’t mind seeing him take a few more chances and be more active offensively, but what we have gotten from him has been reliability and consistency.
Danny Dekeyser: D
Being limited to just 24 games this season, what we’ve gotten out of DK is pretty lackluster. No longer being utilized as a shut-down defender, as he is only being deployed 54% of the time in the defensive end, he still manages to boast a relative-CF% of -3.7%. To go along with only 3 points, he’s been abysmal in the offensive zone.
Jonathon Ericsson: B-
Arguably our best defenseman this season, Big E has stunned us all. His 37 giveaways aren’t appealing, but he’s finding ways to make his teammates better, and playing against teams’ best players, averaging 29.48% of TOI against quality competition. Overall, he has exceeded almost all expectations.
Mike Green: B-
The 24 points look nice for Greener, as he’s clearly been the Wings best offensive-minded blue-liner, but it’s his defensive deficiencies that hold him back. His 50 turnovers, easily lead the team, and just a string a bad decision-making have hurt him. He’s cooled off since his hot first quarter of the season, and leaves me thinking, a B- might be generous.
Nick Jensen: F+
I’m gonna be pretty straight here. Jensen has been absolutely useless this season. Defensive zone giveaways and lack of strength in board battles have been evident many times, but it’s what he’s done offensively that itches at me most. No goals and 7 assists (only 3 primary assists) this year doesn’t cut it for a pure offensive defenseman and, in his late twenties, I’m wondering if he should even be in the NHL.
Niklas Kronwall: C-
Kronner, who is averaging just 17:59 TOI, has been decent when called upon. His CF% of 49.80% ranked 4th on the team and has helped improve the powerplay from last season, pushing the Wings up to 15th in the league.
Xavier Ouellet: D
XO had an underrated rookie season last year, so expectations were somewhat high this year. He’s failed to meet these new standards and has consistently found himself on the short stick for ice time. Justified? Maybe, but I feel he’s being misused and needs a full time spot to really see what he’s made of.
Jimmy Howard: Can you get anything higher than an A+?
The best player at the midway point is Jimmy Howard, end of story. He’s given the Wings a chance to win night in and night out, making a plethora of timely saves. Doing so, while being extremely overused. He’s started 34 games out of 41, which is down right ridiculous for a goaltender his age.
Petr Mrazek: C
Despite barely getting any playing time, Mrazek hasn’t shined the way fans were hoping for. However, he’s been left out to dry by the defense almost every game and a lack of playing time may be preventing him from getting into a rhythm.
All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.hockey