Red Wings Special Teams are Difficult to Watch

Filip Zadina and Jakub Vrana for the Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Filip Zadina and Jakub Vrana for the Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Red Wings special teams have endured yet another difficult season. Last year, many fans believed that the futility of the power play and penalty killing units could be blamed on assistant coach Dan Bylsma.  As a result of poor performances, the Red Wings and Bylsma parted ways last summer.

Alex Tanguay was brought onto the Detroit coaching staff in order to straighten out the special teams issues.

Fast forward one year, the same 56 game season to be exact, and the Red Wings continue to be at the bottom of the league in both special teams.  After 56 games, the Red Wings PP ranked 28th in the NHL at 16.5%.  On the PK, the Red Wings were 30th at 73.9%.

What’s Wrong with the Detroit PP?

Since the start of the season, the Red Wings have definately been a more exciting hockey club.  The additions of rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond have been a breath of fresh air for the Hockeytown faithful.

When you dig deeper into why the Red Wings are near the bottom of the league standings in special teams, it can only be attributed to one thing, a lack of depth.

Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri, Lucas Raymond, Dylan Larkin, and Moritz Seider currently make up the #1 PP unit.  These players have scored a comined 21 goals while on the PP.

Adam Erne, Pius Suter, Filip Zadina, Nick Leddy, and Filip Hronek make up the #2 PP unit.  These players have scored a combined five PP goals.

These numbers indicate that the Red Wings are either using the wrong players on the 2nd unit, or there is not enough skill to improve one of the worst power plays in the NHL.

At practice on Monday, Jakub Vrana and Michael Rasmussen replaced Suter and Erne.  This should add additional size and skill to the #2 unit.  In the disappointing loss to Arizona last night, both Detroit goals were scored on the power play.  The PP was 2/4 on the night.

What’s Wrong with the Detroit PK?

Similar to the PP, the PK most likely lacks depth.  Sam Gagner and Moritz Seider are mainstays on the #1 PK unit.  The use of Danny DeKeyser and Pius Suter on the #1 unit is suspect at best.  DeKeyser is arguably having his worst NHL season and will likely be gone as an UFA after the season.  Suter is also more of a point producer than a defensive specialist.

The #2 PK unit boasts Marc Staal and Michael Rasmussen.  Both have done a respectable job this year.  The use of Filip Hronek and Tyler Bertuzzi on the #2 unit doesn’t make any sense.  Both players are PP specialists and Hronek is especially weak in the defensive zone.

Incredible as it may sound, Arizona scored all nine goals last night at even strength.  The Red Wings PK was 1/1 on the night.

The End Result?

With the special teams sitting near the bottom of the league standings, the Detroit Red Wings are going to have a tough time winning hockey games.  A look at the league standings after 56 games indicates that Detroit are only six points better this year compared to last.

Last year, Detroit had a record of 19-27-10, good for 27th in overall NHL standings.  This allowed the Red Wings to receive a lottery pick that ended up being Simon Edvinsson at #6 overall.  Edvinsson is viewed as the top defense prospect in the organization.

Through the same 56 games this year, the Red Wings are six points better with a 24-26-6 record.  This places the Red Wings 23rd overall.  If the season ended after 56 games, the Red Wings would once again receive a lottery pick.  With the poor luck Detroit have had with the lottery, they would likely select between picks #9-11.

This is a deep draft and as we get closer to Draft Day, our team at Octopus Thrower will examine the players most likely to be picked by Detroit in the 1st round.

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