Not a soul on the planet expected the Detroit Red Wings to come out so hot after the All-Star break. The group has looked energized and physical, and most importantly, they’re executing.
Even through injuries to a top-six forward and a top-pairing defenseman, the team has looked better throughout each game. The reason for this is an improvement in key spots that were lacking at the beginning of the year.
Of course, production from the main studs like Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi is always a main component of winning, but you can’t just win games with those two players. And these three things are pushing this team to victory over some formidable teams.
Let’s dive into the Detroit Red Wings’ 5-game win streak.
It’s clear this team has struggled heavily on both the power play and the penalty kill in the past couple of years, but we may have finally seen the turn. This power play has shown a lot of promise all year but never has been executed consistently until now. Over this five-game stretch, the power play has been 8-for-18, clocking in at a 44.4% success rate. Including a 2-for-4 night against the sixth-best penalty kill in the league.
Clearly, head coach Derek Lalonde and company have found a perfect combination for the two units and have moved the Wings’ power play percentage all the way to 14th in the league. And the real MVP of the special teams has been the penalty kill.
This unit has been 13-for-15 on the PK, including three games against two top-12 power plays. Oh, and one of those teams boasts the names of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. This team has found ways to not only score goals when given a chance but also to stop goals when mistakes are made.
Bottom 6 Production
Granted, this team’s top-six has been stellar, and even the defense has chipped in for some production. But the long-winded problem with this team has been depth productivity. We’ve seen some starting lineups that have been ugly, to say the least.
This year though, we’ve finally seen some flashes of scoring for the bottom half of the lineup. The inclusion of Jonatan Berggren, the comeback of Filip Zadina, and the emergence of Joe Veleno has resurrected this team’s depth scoring.
They are responsible for six of the 20 goals scored in this hot streak for the Wings, excluding the game-winner Pius Suter had in the shootout victory versus Edmonton. I know that doesn’t seem much in the grand scheme of things for this team, but putting it in even more perspective, these two lines have been responsible for 30% of the scoring over this win streak.
Looking even deeper, they have scored five of the 12 goals scored 5-on-5 for the team during this stretch. With forward Jakub Vrana still in the press box and youngster Lucas Raymond on his way back from injury, these two lines can have even more firepower come the later games.
Does this come as much of a surprise to many? Probably not. This team has been saved by the likes of Ville Husso and Magnus Hellberg multiple times this year, yet it’s most apparent in this five-game stretch.
Husso has been the main contributor, having a save percentage of .945 and a goals-against of just 1.97 over his last four games. And Hellberg took over last night, only giving up two goals on 35 shots. Both goalies have faced 30+ shots in each of the games they have played and have let in a combined ten goals in that time. If your goaltending duo is averaging only two goals against a night, you will be successful.
The Detroit Red Wings, now only two points out of a playoff spot with at least three games in hand of the teams above them, have the ability to do something special and bring the fans back to the promised land after this long seven-year rebuild.
As long as they are playing meaningful games into March and even April, I’ll be happy. And if these things keep rolling at a consistent pace, we might be watching Red Wing playoff hockey in early April.