It’s really unfortunate that I decided to post these columns on Sundays. With the trade deadline on Monday this year, I’m missing it by a day, meaning I’ll have to cover all of the excitement next week, giving it a whole six days to cool down! Worry not, though, we’ll have all of the coverage live as it happens on WingsNation.com.
Since the Wings have been so quiet as of late, though, there isn’t much to address on the trade front right now. There was a lot of hockey played this week, though. For the second week in a row, Detroit played four games in seven days. Last week, they did pretty well, going 3-1-0. They didn’t have the same luck this week. In addition to losing three of the four games, they lost Petr Mrazek in a trade to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Whenever the Wings and Leafs meet, it’s always a good game. Last Sunday’s tussle was no exception. Detroit was chasing the Leafs for a large part of the game, but thanks to goals by Anthony Mantha and Henrik Zetterberg, they were tied heading into the final minute of the game. Of course, it was Auton Matthews who scored with thirty seconds left to give the Leafs the win and, ultimately, the win. It’s always Auston Matthews. He’s like the Wings dream killer.
From there, the Wings played the Nashville Predators for the second time in four days. It’s too bad that the Mrazek trade happened the day before this game because he has a pretty good record against the Preds. After giving up two goals in the first period, the Wings weren’t able to claw their way back into the game. Andreas Athanasiou did score a Classic AA goal on Juuse Saros in the second period and Tomas Tatar showcased himself well to a team that is looking to add scoring depth at the upcoming trade deadline. The Wings lost 3-2. It was the first time the Predators beat Detroit since 2013.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 21, 2018
Buffalo was next on the docket and boy did these two teams really battle it out. Neither of them wanted to win the game and it came down to a Marco Scandella goal in the final second of overtime. Literally the last second. Detroit got goals from Justin Abdelkader and Jonathan Ericsson who had a surprisingly good shot. Who knew?
Finally, the Wings collected two points last night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Scott Darling isn’t really lighting up the league this year and Detroit’s defensemen took advantage of that. Both Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daley notched goals in the 3-1 victory. The game winning goal, though, came from Henrik Zetterberg. It was a nice deflection on the powerplay and it was Z’s 335th career goal, which ties Ted Lindsay for fifth on the Red Wings all-time goals list. It’s quite the accomplishment for Z.
The Regular Stats
This was a fun week because all of the regulars made it onto the scoring sheet as well as a few non-regulars. Ericsson, DeKeyser, and Daley are all names we don’t normally see here, but they all provided some scoring this week. Zetterberg continues his impressive second half of the season with two more goals and Athanasiou seems to have re-found his confidence as he added a goal and two assists.
The Athanasiou-Larkin pairing has been great since they were put together. They take chances and are always looking for each other on the ice. Add Tatar to that line for some secondary scoring and they are exciting to watch. They’re not quite as stable as the first line, but they’re ironing out their inconsistencies.
Larkin is still holding on to the points race, but it really wouldn’t surprise me to see Zetterberg surpass him. Z is just a beast and having a phenomenal 2018 so far. He could put up a 3-point game tonight and tie Larkin.
Mantha scored his 20th of the season this week, which is a career-high for him. He’s on pace for 28 goals this year, which says to me that he’s going to be a 30-goal scorer very soon. His contract negotiation will be interesting this offseason.
Gustav Nyquist and Mike Green are both pushing 30 points, but Green hasn’t played in four or five games. Detroit really needs to get him active and on the ice. Every game he sits out, his trade value decreases and, with the deadline tomorrow, teams need to know that he’s healthy and ready for a playoff run.
The Fancy Stats
Detroit posted a season low 36.25 5v5 on-ice Corsi-For percentage against the Hurricanes last night. That is very, very bad. For the rest of the week, they were trending closer to their season average of 48%. Their possession this year has been a rollercoaster from game-to-game. Not a lot of consistency and they seem to win the games where their Corsi is lower. It’s kind of strange, but hey whatever works!
This is the first column I’ve done where Dylan Larkin was a negative relative Corsi-For player. Not a great week for him or his line in terms of possession. The first line was dominant and Xavier Ouellet showed some advanced stat value with his 9.22 relCF%. It’s also interesting to see DeKeyser that high on this chart as he’s normally closer to the bottom, if not dead last.
It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing how this trade deadline shakes out because it’s going to affect how these top-3 teams finish the year. Boston has already acquired Rick Nash and signed Brian Gionta. The Leafs just traded for Tomas Plekanec. Tampa is working on getting Erik Karlsson. It’s like an arms race for the top spot in the Division. What’s really sad is that two of these three teams will likely be knocked out by the second round.
Detroit’s only seven points back from that second Wild Card spot, but they have four teams to jump and one of them will have three games in hand. They are still within reach, but the window is going to get smaller and smaller based on what transgresses by tomorrow’s 3:00 P.M. trade deadline.
I would think that New Jersey has run away with the first spot at this point. If I had to put my money on who would get the second spot, I’d put it on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
More milestones means more player of the week honours. Henrik Zetterberg is using this season to cement himself as one of the greatest Red Wings of all-time. Ted Lindsay was a beast back in his day. Surpassing him on the all-time goals list is no easy feat. It’s worth celebrating. If anyone had any doubt that #40 was going to be retired, where have you been? Z’s number deserves to, and will, hang from the rafters when his playing days are done.
Can Detroit make a push for the second Wild Card spot? Sure, it’s possible. They’d have to go on a big run, but it’s certainly possible. Can they do it without Mike Green and Tomas Tatar? Hell no.
So much of Detroit’s season hinges on tomorrow’s trade deadline and which players Ken Holland is willing to part with. Green is a 30-point player! If he’s traded, which he likely will be, where are the Wings going to get that production from? It’s certainly not going to come from Joe Hicketts.
Holland said all of the right things in his press conference this week after the Mrazek trade. All that’s left to do is follow up on it. That’s the hard part. But no rebuild is easy. There is going to be pain and it starts right now. Sell, sell, sell.
It’s been an intense two weeks for the Wings as they’ve played nine games in fourteen days, both on the road and at home. They shouldn’t expect too much rest anytime soon as March is going to be a busy month for them. They need to make sure they find their feet, dig deep, and play hard if they want to make the playoff push that they believe is inside of them.
Sunday, February 25 – @ New York Rangers, 7:30 P.M. ET
Wednesday, February 28 – @ St. Louis Blues, 8:00 P.M. ET
Friday, March 2 – @ Winnipeg Jets, 8:00 P.M. ET