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Hockey

Red Wings or Dead Wings?

When it comes to professional sports in the city of Detroit, it seems as though all is lost. The Detroit teams of the four major sports leagues have not been “good” at all recently, in fact, there’s some Detroit teams in particular that have been very, very bad.

The MLB’s Detroit Tigers were not relevant at all this year, finishing with the worst record in baseball at 47-114 and a .292 win percentage. The NBA’s Detroit Pistons currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a 10-14 record through 24 games, a showing that isn’t great but also isn’t the worst we’ve seen. With a 3-9-1 record, the NFL’s Detroit Lions are set to miss the playoffs for the third straight year and the 48th time in the franchise’s 60 year history. And the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings? Well, they’ve been on a whole different level of bad.

Currently sitting last in the Atlantic Division, last in the Eastern Conference and last in the entire NHL, the Detroit Red Wings have put up a miserable 17 points through 32 games so far this season. With a 7-22-3 record, the Red Wings continue to be on pace for one of the worst seasons of any team we’ve seen in recent memory. According to Sportsnet’s Dimitri Filipovic, there have been four coaching changes in the NHL since the Red Wings last won a game on November 12, one month ago.

Paul Sancya / Detroit Free Press

As of Wednesday, the Red Wings are on pace to finish the year with 45 points. This would be an extreme disappoint for an organization that, overall, has seen tons of success. From 1991 to 2016, the Red Wings qualified for the post season every year, holding the NHL record for most consecutive playoff appearances at 25. Since the Red Wings’ inception in 1932 (although the first NHL team in Detroit was in 1926), the Red Wings have won 19 Division Championships, 6 Conference Championships, 6 President’s Trophies and have won the Stanley Cup 11 times. Their 11 Stanley Cups are the third-most won by any franchise in the NHL. Success in the Red Wings organization runs very high. But to finish this season with 45 points would be the lowest point total of any team in a non-lockout-shortened season since the Atlanta Thrashers posted 39 in the 1999-2000 season.

There are a number of reasons why Detroit’s record is as bad as it is. They are not getting anywhere close to the amount of offence they need to win hockey games, and their defence and goaltending has been very sub-par to say the least. The Red Wings are in the midst of a 12 game losing streak, two losses away from tying the franchise record for most consecutive losses, and only five losses away from tying the NHL record. Here are some of Detroit’s stats this season under the four main aspects of hockey:

David Guralnick / Detroit News

1. Offense

Statistically, the Detroit Red Wings have one of the worst offences in the league. Tyler Bertuzzi, the team’s leading scorer, has 25 points. There are only five teams in the NHL whose leading scorer has less than that. The Red Wings have only scored 67 goals so far, which is last in the league. Darren Helm is the only player on the team with a positive +/- at +3. Three players have a +/- of 0, and everyone else is a negative.

2. Defense

The Red Wings defence hasn’t been spectacular either. They have given up a league worst 129 goals, and also possess a league worst -62 goal differential. Their leading scorer among defencemen is Filip Hronek, who only has 14 points through 30 games played. As for +/-, the worst three plus-minus ratings in the league are all Red Wings players, with forward Andreas Athanasiou posting a grim -33 player rating.

3. Special Teams

Detroit currently sits 27th in the league in power play percentage, converting on 14.9% of their attempts. They only have 15 power play goals as a team. The Red Wings also sit last in the league on the penalty kill, successfully killing off only 72.5% of their penalties. The team only has 2 short handed goals this season.

4. Goaltending

Both Red Wings goaltenders in Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier are last and second-last in the league among full-time goaltenders in goals-against-average, posting a 3.94 and 3.41 GAA respectively. They are also last and second-last in save percentage, with 0.887 for Howard and 0.888 for Bernier. The Red Wings have called up goaltender Eric Comrie from the AHL, and in two games played he has posted a grisly 4.41 GAA and 0.853 save percentage.

Gregory Shamus / The Associated Press

There is definitely something that is not clicking among members of this Red Wings team. If you look near the bottom of the stats in almost every category, the Red Wings as players or as a team will be at the bottom or near the bottom in nearly every single one. At this point, all that is really left to do is wait and see when, or if, Head Coach Jeff Blashill gets the boot, and how many points the Red Wings will end the season with. Will the Red Wings become the new record holders for most consecutive losses in the NHL? Will they finish with more than 50 points? What moves will GM Steve Yzerman make going forward? All that’s really left to look forward to for Red Wings fan is a high pick in this year’s draft lottery.

Featured photo courtesy of detroitredwings.com

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