The Detroit Red Wings have been the model of success for decades. Having made the playoffs for 25 straight seasons and having the 3rd most Stanley cups all-time and most among American-based teams, it’s impossible to deny how stellar they have been. This year is different, though. The Wings seem stale, and out of sync. Despite all of the Wings’ success, is it now the time to start worrying?
After starting 6-2, the Wings have dropped 6 of their last 8 to fall to a lowly 13-14 halfway through the month of December. While it’s still relatively early in the season, you can’t help but wonder if this is the year the Wings aren’t able to keep their high level of play alive.
Most of the Wings’ turmoil can be found at the defensive end of the ice. Despite The Wings being ranked 6th in penalty-kill(PK) percentage, they are allowing 2.74 goals per game, placing them at 16th worst in the league. And while both Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are having respectable seasons, It’s Mrazek that has been struggling mightily as of late. Petr has allowed a Goals-against-average (GAA) of 2.92, ranking him 32nd of 45 possible spots. Not something you want to see out of your Goal-keeper of the future.
What no one wants to talk about, though, and what could arguably be the bigger reason for the Wings’ recent struggles, is a combination of two things. Lack of young talent on the roster and lack of power-play (PP) conversion. Currently, the average age for the Wings sits at 28.2, which is 4th oldest in the league. And while older players such as Steve Ott and Frans Nielsen have contributed to the team’s somewhat limited success, their increased play time automatically takes away time and opportunities for younger players such as Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi; the future of the team. Let’s face it, if the Wings continue to play this poorly, there’s no sense in continuing to give minutes to players who won’t be with the team for very much longer.
In regards to power-play conversion, it’s pretty black and white. The Wings currently sit at the second worst in the league at conversion percentage with a 13.3% conversion rate.
In regards to the slump the Wings seem to be in and where to go from here, Henrik Zetterberg said, “We got to stick together. We got to work more on the stuff that’s not working. I think we are doing some stuff well, but we got to work on the stuff that we’re not doing good. Getting pucks in the net, power-play, stuff like that.”
The Wings obviously hope to return to their glory days and not have to worry about being asked the same questions over and over again, But with the way they’ve been playing these last couple months, it’s hard to argue in their favor.
The Wings will look to bounce back from their four-game slump, as they host the Ducks Saturday evening at 7 pm ET. The Wings currently sit at 6th in the Atlantic division.
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