Month: March 2014

Scoring By Committee

Gustav Nyquist

Photo courtesy of AP

Though Gustav Nyquist is tearing it up on the ice and making frequent appearances on the score sheet, he is still not leading the Red Wings in points this season. Nyquist is tied with Daniel Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall for second on the team with 45 points. Henrik Zetterberg currently leads the Wings with 48 points through the 45 games he has played.

While Detroit has been plagued by injuries this season, they have relied on several players to lead the scoring punch. Nyquist, Alfredsson, Kronwall, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Tatar have all stepped up in a combined effort to keep the Red Wings in the playoff hunt. Though Detroit is scoring, no one is the stand out leading scorer.

Actually, Detroit’s leading scorer at the end of the regular season this year may have the lowest point total of any Red Wings’ leading scorer since the implementation of an 80 (or 82) game schedule. It’s just a matter of who leads the team at the end of the year. The previous lowest point total was 59 points be Walt McKechnie during the 1976-77 season. That season, the Dead Wings went 16-55-9.

This year’s lack of scoring is a bit of an anomaly. Detroit is having a much better season in comparison with the 1976-77 Red Wings team. Though this season is not up to Red Wing standards, we are still in the playoff hunt and have the potential to do some damage if we reach the playoffs. In addition, McKechnie scored his 59 points in 80 games, which translated to 0.74 points per game (ppg). Zetterberg is scoring over a point per game, but has missed time due to back injuries. He would score 87 points in a full season. Datsyuk (0.85), Alfredsson (0.71), Franzen (0.79), and Nyquist (0.90) all would be having better seasons had they not missed time due to injuries or time in the minors. Chances are that they would all score over 59 points this season with all 82 games under their belt. But that’s not how things work. Someone may make history this year with the lowest point total to lead the Red Wings in a non-shortened 82-game season.

Detroit has not had someone step up and dominate the scoring for the team, and even the league, in recent history, but they do score goals. I think this bodes well if they can squeak into the playoffs. A healthy Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will certainly help too. Gustav Nyquist is leading the team now, but the scoring has otherwise been pretty diverse, and that will be hard to defend against come playoff time. Mike Babcock used to split up Datsyuk and Zetterberg so the opponent’s shutdown line had to focus on one player, not both. Now, those two aren’t even in the equation, but could be for the playoffs. Imagine a world where a line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg isn’t the main focus of the opponent’s defense?

Top 9: All-Time Penalty Minute Leaders

On March 26th, 1997, all hell broke loose at the Joe. Pent up frustrations boiled over during the heated matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and the Red Wings leading to a line brawl with Darren McCarty and “the turtle”, Claude Lemieux, at center stage. With the 17th anniversary of the brawl this past Wednesday, today’s list is going to take a look at the Top 9 penalty minute leaders in Red Wings’ history.

For a look at the fights that happened 17 years ago, visit hockeyfights.com and view the game’s profile. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are the Top 9:

9. Gary Bergman– 1101 PIMS

Gary Bergman

Photo courtesy of Steve Babineau/Getty Images

8. Reed Larson– 1127 PIMS

Reed Larson

Photo courtesy of Steve Babineau/Getty Images

7. Dennis Polonich– 1242 PIMSDennis Polonich

6. Darren McCarty– 1302 PIMS

Darren McCarty

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

5. Ted Lindsay– 1423 PIMS

Lindsay

Photo courtesy of TedLindsay.com

4. Gerard Gallant– 1600 PIMS

Gerard Gallant

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

3. Gordie Howe– 1643 PIMS

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Richard Meek/SI

2. Joe Kocur– 1963 PIMS

Joe Kocur

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1. Bob Probert– 2090 PIMS

Bob Probert

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

Stats provided by hockeydb.com

Goalies: The Spotlight’s On You

Today we are going to take a look at Detroit’s goalies, both on the active roster and in the system. The Red Wings have six (maybe five) tenders under contract: Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, Petr Mrazek, Jared Coreau, Jake Paterson, and Tom McCollum. Compared with the rest of the NHL, Detroit’s goalies are above-average in terms of combined talent and potential. However, only excellence is demanded when you step into the crease with the Red Wings’ logo on your chest. Here is the Red Wings Intelligence take on the tendy situation in Detroit:

1. Jimmy Howard

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After taking over the starting goalie role from Chris Osgood in 2009, Jimmy Howard has held that role ever since. He has 148 career wins in the Red Wings’ uniform and has led the team to the playoffs in each of his four full seasons as the starter. However, Jimmy has posted a 20-22 record in the playoffs. He is signed through 2018-19 season at $5.3 million per season.

I am often critical of Howard’s play, especially his positioning and some soft goals. First, let me give him credit. The defense in front of him has been unspectacular at times. Jimmy bails the team out and keeps them in games.

But I did say I am often critical of his goaltending. His angles can be off on shots from the boards. He bails the team out, but a lot of times he does not make the save that he has no business making. Dominik Hasek had a knack for coming out of nowhere to make an unbelievable save that inspired his team. I have yet to see Jimmy do that. Doc Emerick, Ken Daniels, and Ken Kal all erupt with, “SAVE BY HOWARD!!!” None of those saves are spectacular in the sense that proper positioning would make it look routine.

In my opinion, Howard is not the money goalie that will lead the Wings to another Cup. He was clutch down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, but goals still went in. You can argue that it wasn’t his fault they lost to Chicago in the second round, but the bottom line is that the puck went in our net more times than theirs, and it’s Howard job not to let that happen.

2. Jonas Gustavsson

Jonas Gustavsson

Photo courtesy of Mike Ridewood/Getty Images

“The Monster” has been a surprise this season, putting up nice numbers while Howard was injured or relegated to the bench. This is his second season with the team and is signed through the end of the season for $1.5 million.

Gustavsson stepped up when we needed him, but is not going to take over the starting job anytime soon. He may get a chance to be a co-starter next season, however it won’t be in Detroit. I anticipate Gustavsson to test the free agent market this summer and sign somewhere willing to give him more playing time. After his performance this season, I feel he could ask for a raise and will get it. Detroit has the cap room to keep him around, but do they have enough playing time to keep him happy?

3. Petr Mrazek

Petr Mrazek

Photo courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI

Though he has played sparingly in the NHL in his young career, I think Mrazek could have a future with the Red Wings. His 2-5 career record may be unspectacular, but there is a lot of upside to “Petr Griffin” (he has Family Guy’s Peter Griffin painted on his helmet and Detroit’s farm team is called the Grand Rapids Griffins. Get it???). Mrazek is signed through next season on his entry-level contract that earns him just under $600,000 at the NHL level.

If Jonas Gustavsson is no re-signed for next season, Detroit could give Mrazek a shot at the backup role. However, another year starting in the minors can’t hurt his game – maybe his confidence though. He led the Griffins to the AHL championship last year and is having another great season this year. Mrazek has won everywhere he has played and could develop into a starting goalie for the Red Wings down the road.

4. Thomas McCollum

Tom McCollum

Photo courtesy of Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins

A former first round pick from 2008, McCollum has not lived up to what Detroit had envisioned. His path to the show was a bumpy one, splitting time between Grand Rapids and Toledo for the first three years of his professional career. He appeared in one game for Detroit in 2011 and got lit up by St. Louis. McCollum allowed three goals on eight shots in 15 minutes of relief. McCollum has had a pretty solid year in Grand Rapids this year, splitting time with Petr Mrazek. His contract is not listed on Detroit’s CapGeek page, so I believe he is property of Grand Rapids, rather than Detroit now.

5. Jared Coreau

Jared Coreau

Photo courtesy of Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings

Detroit signed this Northern Michigan product after his junior season and has spent time in Grand Rapids and Toledo since. Coreau was called up to the bigs a few times, but never got in on any action. Nonetheless, the time spent in the dressing rooms and practicing with world-class players can only help his development. He has not had a good season in the minors this year though. He has a combined AHL and ECHL record of 1-15-5 this season. Yes, the Toledo Walleye may not be a very good ECHL team, but Coreau posted an 0-4 record with a strong Grand Rapids team this year. Jared is in the first year of his entry-level contract this year and has another two years to follow. Hopefully he will develop more and produce better numbers by the time his contract is up.

 

6. Jake Paterson

Jake Paterson

Photo courtesy of Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

Detroit drafted Paterson in the third round in 2012 out of Saginaw of the OHL. He is just wrapping up his fourth season (third full season) in the OHL, leading the Spirit into the playoffs. Paterson made the Canadian National Junior team this past winter for the World Junior Championships in Sweden, but only appeared in two games. His numbers are not eye-popping, but then again, he may not have the best team in front of him. A goals against average of over three and a save percentage above 90% indicates that he is not getting a lot of help and faces quite a few shots on a regular basis. I have never seen Paterson play, so I cannot comment on his ability, but hope that he makes an impression at Detroit’s training camp next year. Him and Coreau could potentially be the two goalies in Grand Rapids next year if Gustavsson and McCollum are let go.

 

Detroit’s Top 9 Goal Scorers

For the initial Top 9, I am going to take a look at the top goal scorers. These players scored the most goals while wearing a Red Wings’ jersey. Guys like Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull, and Marcel Dionne have all put the biscuit in the basket frequently throughout their career, but not enough times while playing for Detroit to make the list. Goals only matter if they are scored in a Red Wings’ uniform anyway.

Statistics are provided by HockeyDB.com. Go there. They have endless data about all stats hockey.

Note: It is Top 9 because Gordie was, and still is, the man.

9. Nicklas Lidstrom– 264 goals

Lidstrom

Photo courtesy of Bill Roose

8. John Ogrodnick– 265 goals

Ogrodnick

Photo courtesy of Steve Babineau/Getty Images

7. Brendan Shanahan-309 goals

Shanahan

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

6. Norm Ullman– 324 goals

Ullman

Photo courtesy of redwings.nhl.com

5. Ted Lindsay– 335 goals

Lindsay

Photo courtesy of TedLindsay.com

4. Sergei Fedorov– 400 goals

Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

3. Alex Delvecchio– 456 goals

Delvecchio

Photo courtesy of redwings.nhl.com

2. Steve Yzerman– 692 goals

Yzerman

Photo courtesy of David E. Klutho/Hockey Hall of Hall

1. Gordie Howe– 786 goals

Howe

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Looking into the Future: 2018 Lineup

After really thinking about how prospects like Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and Petr Mrazek are getting a chance to prove themselves earlier than expected, I began to wonder what the lineup would look like when those players were in their prime. Five years from now, the current batch of prospects would be in their mid- to late-20s and hopefully will be mainstays in the Red Wings’ lineup.

Below is a depth chart of how I think the Red Wings lineup will look in five years. All of the players are in the organization, as I cannot predict who will get traded or let go in another way. Note: Pavel Datsyuk will not be playing in the 2018-19 season, unless he decides to follow in the footsteps of Igor Larionov and play until he is 44.

2018 Lineup

2018-19 Projected Lineup

It was tough to predict the future.

Only Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jimmy Howard are under contract for that season currently. Everyone else will be on a new contract than the one they are currently signed under.

I surely hope Anthony Mantha is dominating the NHL by then. He has the makings of a goal-scoring power forward and would fit well with an aged playmaker in Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist in his prime.

Defense is a huge question mark in my opinion. I can see Brendan Smith or Brian Lashoff not being on the team in 2018, though I hope they are unless they are traded for even better players. Luckily, Detroit has a great batch of prospects on defense are could afford to lose Smith and/or Lashoff. Even some of the prospects could be dealt. Guys like Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman, and Adam Almquist should all be NHL-ready by 2018, it’s just a matter of who is with the Red Wings, in the minors, or elsewhere in the NHL.

Players I am hoping will be in the lineup: Zetterberg, Mantha, Marchenko, Mrazek, Pulkkinen.

Players who could be traded by 2018: Franzen, Howard, Smith, Jurco, any defenseman prospect.

NHL Experience for Red Wings Prospects

With all the injuries to the Red Wings this season, more than a few prospects are getting a shot at playing in the show. Injuries to captain Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Johan Franzen, Joakim Andersson, Todd Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, the octopus, Joe Louis himself, and the popcorn vendor have opened the door for young talent to fill their shoes…or skates. Get it?

Tomas Jurco, Landon Ferraro, Riley Sheahan, and Luke Glendening have all gotten a chance to show their skills in the Red and White. Guys like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have not only made the team this year, but have been thrust into prominent roles and performed admirably. Side note: Tatar and Nyquist should have been in the top 12 forwards all season.

As of 3/23, Sheahan has five goals, 13 assists, and 18 points with a plus-one rating. He has centered what has become Detroit’s second line and played strongly at both ends of the ice.

Luke Glendening has been one of Detroit’s top penalty killers, while providing a spark for the Red Wings’ fourth line. Due to injuries, he moved up to the third line at times. Glendening has earned Mike Babcock’s trust for penalty killing, defensive zone faceoffs, and shutting down opponents’ top players.

Jurco has contributed ten points playing on the “Kid Line” with Sheahan and Tatar before breaking ribs earlier in the month. His saucy paws are getting some valuable experience playing in Detroit before he was expected to crack the lineup.

Other prospects have gotten a chance in the Red Wings lineup, but have not played as much as the guys mentioned above. Landon Ferraro got a chance on the fourth line and even got a chance in the PK rotation, but was sent down for Mitch Callahan today (3/24). Teemu Pulkkinen appeared sparingly in three games, but got a chance to play the point on the second power play unit. Petr Mrazek has gotten in a few games with Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson each missing some time throughout the season. Adam Almquist, Xavier Ouellet, and Alexey Marchenko have all gotten a shot on defense this season.

Even though most of these guys will not be in the list of 23 players who make the team next year, this experience is great for their development. The extra confidence gained from playing high-stake NHL games will greatly improve their game and help them develop into the players Ken Holland, Jimmy Devellano, and the scouts envisions when they drafted or signed these players. It’s rare for the Red Wings to play so many young players, so they should take advantage of the playing time and soak in what is is like to don the Winged Wheel.