Ben Chiarot is finally performing at a high level and it's great for the Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are finally getting the production and the reliable second-pairing play they hoped for from veteran defenseman Ben Chiarot.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This season has been somewhat of a revenge tour for veteran defenseman Ben Chiarot. The second-year Red Wing seems rejuvenated, and he's finally performing at the level general manager Steve Yzerman hoped he would when he signed him to a four-year deal worth $ 19 million. Chiarot, 32, quickly became somewhat of a punching bag among Detroit Red Wings fans last season for his lackluster play; that torch has since been passed to his defense partner Jeff Petry in 2023-24.

Chiarot has settled in nicely as a workhorse on Detroit's second pairing. He and Petry draw many of Detroit's challenging assignments each night, which helps take some of the pressure off the top pairing of Moritz Seider and Jake Walman. That top pairing has been very good this season for the Red Wings, but like many, have faltered more than you'd like to see during the first half of the season. Don't forget; there was a time Walman found himself as a healthy scratch due to his lack of effort and multiple lapses of judgment during Detroit's embarrassing home loss to the reeling San Jose Sharks.

Any playoff-bound team needs a reliable second pairing to perform at a high level if they are going to make any postseason run. Petry has struggled mightily at times this season, and it's apparent that he's nowhere near flawless, but he's been a lot better since Christmas paired with Chiarot. Plus, right now, what is the alternative? Justin Holl? No thanks. Although Chiarot and Petry may raise Detroit fans' blood pressure, the chemistry is evident. They are asked to play many tough minutes; they're a significant reason why Detroit has enjoyed so much success on the penalty kill during the second half of the season. That unit has ranked as the top unit since January 1st. This will surprise most; Detroit's second pairing of Chiarot and Petry generates the least expected goals per 60 minutes (1.98xG/60) of all three Red Wings' pairings.

The Detroit Red Wings are finally getting a reliable performance from their second pairing, led by Ben Chiarot.

Although he will never be a superstar, Chiarot has proved to be a stalwart by chipping in offensively of late during critical times of the game. Chiarot is finally performing as he had with the Montreal Canadiens during their Stanley Cup Finals run in 2020-21 during the pandemic. He played primarily with Shea Weber for 25-plus hard minutes per night with the Habs. He's averaged just under 20 minutes per game this season and achieved 15 points, including a pair of goals over 52 games. He's also maintained a plus-2 rating. This year, his 0.9 points/60 minutes is the best of his career. His 112 hits this season are second on Detroit to Seider's 130. His 113 blocked shots rank third on the Red Wings behind Seider (138) and Walman (131). Chiarot plays with an edge and doesn't mind when the game becomes physical, and that becomes a lot more prominent as the season grows old and becomes intensified during the postseason.

Recently, Chiarot buried the overtime winner last week in Seattle and followed it up with a secondary assist on Patrick Kane's overtime winner over the Colorado Avalanche. A secondary assist isn't often glorified, but he made a vital play on Detroit's cycle as the puck was chipped off Kane's stick in the offensive zone. Chiarot took control and continued the cycle, dropping the puck to Dylan Larkin, who drew two Avs to him. Larkin then made an incredible blind behind-the-back pass to a waiting Kane, who deposited a one-timer past Justus Annunen for a game-winner. After being in on the back-to-back overtime winners, Chiarot has called himself the 'overtime assassin.' His teammates began to call him 'OT Benny.'

“OT Benny, the boys were calling him in there,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “Benny’s had a really good season up to this date. His game is really elevated. He’s been good all year. So a little confidence in overtime, it doesn’t surprise me he’s playing at a pretty high level.”