The expectations for the Detroit Red Wings heading into the 2018-19 season were not very high. In fact, most NHL pundits agreed that the Red Wings would miss the postseason for the third consecutive season. Unless something changes, they will be absolutely right.
A Bad Start The Red Wings got off to a horrendous start to the new season dropping the first seven games of the season. Detroit gave up five or more goals in three of those first seven losses and of their two wins – Dallas and Florida – neither has come over a team with a winning record. After making the postseason for 25 consecutive seasons, the Red Wings have taken steps in the wrong direction over the past two seasons. The 2018-19 season might be the worst yet.
Offensive Woes Eleven games into the season, the Red Wings own the worst record in the NHL at 2-7-2. A big reason why is the lack of offensive production especially from their veterans. Justin Abdelkader has a whopping two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 11 games. Niklas Kronwall has a single point in eight games. The list goes on, but even Detroit leading scorer Dylan Larkin has only nine points in 11 games.
In Detroit’s win over Dallas last Saturday, Larkin did have two assists. Frans Nielsen, who has six points total, scored four of those in the last three games and Thomas Vanek (4 pts.) has scored two in his last three games. The Red Wings are trending in the right direction, but they are going to have to show an ability to score – more than 2.3 goals per game (29th in NHL) – to avoid having the League’s worst overall record at the end of the season.
Defensive Struggles Detroit dropped games 4, 5, and 6 by a combined score of 20-8. The Red Wings gave up five goals to Toronto, eight to Boston, and seven to Montreal. Since Detroit has tightened up a little, but head coach Jeff Blashill is going to have to get more from his team if they plan on plugging up their porous defense.
As it stands, the Red Wings are 28th in the league in goals-against average giving up 3.8 goals per game. Only St. Louis, Ottawa, and Philadelphia give up more goals than the Red Wings. Playing without Kronwall, Mike Green, and Jonathan Ericsson may have had something to do with Detroit’s troubles. The trio was not able to play together until Game 8, which also happened to be the first time the Red Wings won this season. A healthy back end will at least help Detroit stay in games.
The Positives Larkin is a star in the making and goalie Jimmy Howard, despite his 3.07 goals against average, has more recently kept the Wings in games. Andreas Athanasiou is another young player who is starting to make an impact with four goals and six points thus far and defenseman Dennis Cholowski has been a pleasant surprise for Detroit. Until the Red Wings figure out how to find the net and play better defense, it is going to be a long season. If Detroit does happen to finish with the league’s worst record, at least they will be able to draft the University of Michigan’s Jack Hughes with the No. 1 pick.