Let’s be honest: there’s no real reason for a Red Wings fan to watch the All-Star Game. Instead of sending one of the team’s young, exciting players like Dylan Larkin, who’s arguably been the best player on the ice every night, or a heart and soul player like Henrik Zetterberg or Jimmy Howard, the league sent Mike Green.
Don’t get me wrong – Green is having a great season. He’s currently on pace for 44 points (which would be his best point tally since the 2014-15 season) and the right-handed defenseman is certainly top-of-mind around the league as he’s poised to be a hot commodity at this year’s trade deadline. But Red Wings fans have made their peace with his eventual departure. Some are even looking forward to it.
Green has been a serviceable defenseman for us for the last three years and I never dreaded watching or cheering for him, but there is no emotional connection to him. If the league is trying to give a fan from every team a reason to watch the All-Star Game, they failed miserably for the Red Wings.
Anyways, there were Red Wings games in the last week, but it was not a fruitful one for the team.
Little Joe Hicketts made his first official appearance in a Red Wings jersey on Monday night against the New Jersey Devils. He played 15:13 of ice time, recording one hit, three blocks, and a plus-1. He even got some time on the penalty kill with fellow Griffin Dominic Turgeon. Petr Mrazek was in net and blanked the Devils, turning away 30 shots, in a 3-0 victory. Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou recorded two points and Tyler Bertuzzi scored the game winner. It was Mrazek’s third shutout of the season and the young goalie is starting to regain some of that swagger he’s so well-known for. This current bout of confidence will certainly make things interesting for the Wings at the trade deadline.
After Monday’s game, Hicketts and Turgeon were sent back down to Grand Rapids as the Wings faced the Flyers on Tuesday night. Detroit kept pace with Philadelphia all night, out-attempting them at 5v5 47-44, but a terrible second period did them in. They managed to push the game to overtime and it only took Travis Konecny 27 seconds to strip Larkin of the puck and score the winner. Mrazek got his second start in a row and faced 31 Flyers shots, turning away 28 of them. The Wings only managed 21 shots on goal. They were out-shot 13-5 at 5v5 in the second period.
Just as it felt the Wings were building some momentum and confidence, they got crushed by the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. Jimmy Howard allowed three goals in the first ten minutes of the game before being pulled and replaced by Mrazek. Mrazek proceeded to put up a .944 save percentage for the remainder of the game, turning away 17 shots. Alex DeBrincat just decimated the Wings, scoring a hat trick and recording an additional assist. Anthony Duclair also recorded three points. Anthony Mantha scored the long Red Wings goal in the 5-1 loss. Detroit actually kept pace with the Hawks at 5v5, recording a shot attempt percentage of 49.48%, but the early goal explosion sunk them. Turgeon was called up to play in this game, but only played 7:44, not making much of an impact.
Then he was sent back down. While it seems like the Wings are playing with Turgeon like a yo-yo, they just wanted him down in Grand Rapids as the team had a five day break for the All-Star Game.
The Regular Stats
Now there’s a name I’ve never seen at the top of the weekly point leaders! Ericsson scored against the Flyers on Tuesday and assisted on David Booth’s goal against the Devils on Monday. Luke Glendening made his return this week and assisted on both Red Wings goals against the Flyers. While he was out, the Wings were a special teams disaster so it’s good to see him back and producing.
This week was much better overall from a production standpoint. Last week, only seven Red Wings recorded a point. This week, at least ten did and only one of their goals was on the powerplay.
The top six or seven here are pretty settled. It’s possible that Zetterberg overtakes Larkin or Mantha overtakes Zetterberg, but I feel pretty confident that this will be the top-10 on the team at the end of the season. Maybe Helm will knock Nielsen or Frk off.
Non All-Star Dylan Larkin continues to lead the team’s offensive charge. Larkin is top-55 in the league in points.
The Fancy Stats
The Wings are finally starting to find some consistency in their play as their shot attempt percentage has been evening out around the 50% mark. I’ve always figured they were a 48%-49% team, so this is right in line with my expectations. If they can get their powerplay going, they wouldn’t be half bad most nights.
Woof – Dominic Turgeon was not good relative to his teammates. Before we get too excited about that or Joe Hicketts’ performance, we need to keep in mind how small of a sample size we have for them. Both of them, for the most part, had favourable zone starts.
The rest of the chart is pretty much par for the course, with Larkin, Mantha, and Frk leading the fancy stats charge.
Boston’s really running away with second place here as they have five points on the Leafs and four games in hand. Detroit, Montreal, and Florida all keep shuffling, but I expect the dust to settle soon and for Florida to be above the other two. As for the Wild Card spot, Detroit is currently ten points out and has three teams to jump. It’s not looking good. Time for the fire sale to start.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Player of the week for this week is Petr Mrazek. The young goaltender had a whopping .949 save percentage over the course of the three games he played in. He is playing with much more confidence, handling the puck and controlling rebounds in a way that gives his team comfort. He’s got his swagger back and that can only help the Red Wings.
In conclusion, every defeat sinks the Red Wings season a little more. With the trade deadline less than a month away, it’s time for the team to start making some moves. It’s been reported that Xavier Ouellet is on the trading block. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Nyquist or Tatar shipped out. This goalie situation is not ideal, though the market is pretty dry. Still, one has to wonder if a confident Petr Mrazek could be worth something.
And then there’s our All-Star Mike Green. Since last year, we’ve been talking about dealing Green at this year’s trade deadline. In my head, he’s been gone for a long time. And that’s why I have no interest in the All-Star Game. There just isn’t a Red Wing there that I care about.
The Wings got a nice little break from this All-Star Game. They don’t hit the ice again until Wednesday and then they have a tough back-to-back weekend.
Wednesday, January 31 – vs. San Jose Sharks, 8:00 P.M. ET
Friday, February 2 – @ Carolina Hurricanes, 7:00 P.M. ET
Saturday, February 3 – @ Florida Panthers, 7:00 P.M. ET