Detroit Red Wings, 2009-10
Goals For: 229 14th
Goals Against: 216 8th
GVT: 13 10th
Points: 102 7th
VUKOTA Projection for 2010-11
Goals For: 242 5th
Goals Against: 220 4th
GVT: 22 2nd
Points: 99 2nd
Going into 2010-11, you might have thought that Detroit's ship had sailed, as the Red Wings had regressed from Stanley Cup champions to finalists to non-finalists over three postseasons
even more so considering the advanced age of the roster. But the Wings really did get decimated for a boatload of injuries in 2009-10, to their credit rallying to finish fifth in the Western Conference on the strength of a superb second half. This was a better team than perceived, while signs pointed to reasons why other contenders such as San Jose and Chicago might be the ones taking a step backwards this season.
Darren Helm (3.8 GVT projection) does all of the little things, wouldn't you say? Can you believe that he ranks in Detroit's top three in each of the categories below (including faceoffs, at 51.1%)? But you might not have known how well defenseman Brad Stuart ranks (6.2 GVT projection), though.
Red Wings top forwards, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Henrik Zetterberg 12.5, Todd Bertuzzi 9.4, Darren Helm 9.1
Hits/60: Justin Abdelkader 17.2, Darren Helm 10.4, Patrick Eaves 8.8
Blocked shots/60: Drew Miller 3.4, Patrick Eaves 3.0, Darren Helm 2.7
Takeaways/giveaway: Pavel Datsyuk 1.8, Patrick Eaves 1.7, Darren Helm 1.3
Net penalties/60: Pavel Datsyuk +1.4#, Darren Helm +1.1, Drew Miller +0.6
Faceoffs: Pavel Datsyuk 55.1%#, Valtteri Filppula 51.7%
Red Wings top defensemen, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Nicklas Lidstrom 5.6, Brad Stuart 4.8, Brian Rafalski 4.3
Hits/60: Brad Stuart 6.5, Jonathan Ericsson 5.4, Niklas Kronwall 4.9
Blocked shots/60: Brad Stuart 4.2, Niklas Kronwall 3.5, Brian Rafalski 3.2
Takeaways/giveaway: Nicklas Lidstrom 0.7, Niklas Kronwall 0.6, Brad Stuart 0.5
Net penalties/60: Brad Stuart +0.3, Brian Rafalski -0.1, Nicklas Lidstrom -0.2
#Out with injury
Minimum 40 games played
Red Wings goaltenders, 2009-10 stats
Based on Goals Versus Threshold, Detroit's Jimmy Howard should have been last season's Calder Trophy winner, as opposed to merely being the runner-up. While the former super-rookie's been a hot-and-cold sophomore (.908 overall save percentage, .919 even strength save percentage), he still provides significantly better goaltending than backup Chris Osgood. Still, Howard's regression is one big reason for the Red Wings' significantly poorer than expected goal prevention this season (16th in NHL).
Save percentage .924
Even strength save percentage: .925
Power play save percentage: .905
Shorthanded save percentage: .980
Save percentage: .888
Even strength save percentage: .897
Power play save percentage: .819
Shorthanded save percentage: 1.000
Detroit has some solid options to go to for their top three shooters, as well as an above average Jimmy Howard in goal. With the exceptional Pavel Datsyuk out of the line up for the time being, head coach Mike Babcock would be well served to try out new options, even such as recent callup Tomas Tatar
that is, assuming that Detroit ever goes past 65 minutes, as they're one of three NHL teams to have only one shootout of record yet on the season (Some teams have competed in as many as seven). Danny Cleary (18.2%), despite the fine season he's having, has not seemed cut out for this skills competition.
Best options, shooters with 10 or more career attempts
Pavel Datsyuk#: 47.1% (24 for 51)
Jiri Hudler: 36.8% (7 for 19)
Todd Bertuzzi: 33.3% (9 for 27)
Best options, shooters with a limited track record
Drew Miller: 50.0% (1 for 2)
Niklas Kronwall: 50.0% (1 for 2)
Johan Franzen: 33.3% (2 for 6)
Jimmy Howard: .700 career (42 for 60), .685 in 2009-10
Chris Osgood: .612 career (41 for 67), .500 in 2009-10
THE BIG QUESTIONS FACING THE RED WINGS
Big Question #1: Can Detroit win the Stanley Cup again?
Nicklas Lidstrom: "I think we're one of the teams that can compete for the Cup this year. We're playing well as a team and when it comes to playoff time, you have to bring it up to another level too. But right now, I think we're playing good as a team."
Valtteri Filppula: "We've been playing well at the beginning [of this season]. If we can continue the same way, we should have a good chance. But obviously, small things matter too, and injuries
But definitely we should have a team that has a chance to fight for it."
Head coach Mike Babcock: "Well, we've got a long way to go, obviously. You take baby steps. We've got lots to work on. So we understand that we've played pretty well at times. We haven't been 60 minutes in quite a few nights here. We've got a long way to go as a team. We understand that. We'll get a lot better here yet."
VUKOTA says: After a season where the Red Wings actually didn't make the Finals, we've got them back as our second-ranked team this season.
Timo says: I chose Red Wings over Capitals for my preseason Stanley Cup pick, assuming better luck with health for Detroit in 2010-11 and not seeing obvious reasons for regression as with some of the other contenders. If you just look at the Blackhawks and Sharks, both lost several significant contributors from last season.
Answer: Yes, as long as Datsyuk comes back healthy.
Big Question #2: What tweaks do the Wings need to make?
Valtteri Filppula: "It's tough to say one thing. I think we still need to improve in a lot of things, but definitely, we've been winning a lot of games now, so that's the main thing in this time of year. But I think we still need to get pucks a little more to the net and get traffic there as well."
Nicklas Lidstrom: "Stay healthy when it comes to playoff time
but working hard for 60 minutes. We've had some parts in games when we haven't worked as hard and it's been hurting us too. Put a strong effort for 60 minutes, we've still only done a few times."
VUKOTA says: Jimmy Howard 60 GP, .914 save percentage, 14.3 GVT.
Timo says: Detroit is currently first in the NHL at 3.45 GF per game, second with 33.4 SOG per game, 16th at 2.80 GA per game, 11th with 29.4 SOGA per game, sixth-best at even strength at 1.20 GF/GA, fourth with a 22.7% power play, fifth in power play opportunities, and 15th at 81.8% penalty killing and 16th in power play opportunities against. One reason for the struggles in goal prevention is the slumping goaltending of sophomore Jimmy Howard. Howard has seen his even strength save percentage drop from .925 to .919, his power play save percentage drop from .905 to .859 and his overall save percentage drop from .924 to .908.
Answer: While still trying to finish in the top half of the Western Conference playoff teams, getting some additional rest for Howard might both improve his performances and keep him fresher for the postseason. It would be nice to have a better backup than Osgood, but we're not holding our breath on anything happening on that front.
Big Question #3: What's life like for the Red Wings after Nick Lidstrom?
Nicklas Lidstrom: "I think they're going to be just fine. I see a lot of good young players coming up. You know, Kindl is good defenseman who's going to have a chance to play here in the future, Brendan Smith is another guy we saw in training camp, so the Wings still have a strong nucleus, and looking at Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Filppulaguys that are going to be here for a long timeso this team is going to be good for a long time."
Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 says: Detroit has three of the Top 50 NHL Prospects, #34 D Brendan Smith, #41 RW Gustav Nyquist and #43 C Tomas Tatar.
Timo says: Lidstrom began 2010-11 with 334 GVT, putting him in the top 10 players of the expansion era. With yet another exceptional season, he will likely finish in the top 5, behind only Gretzky, Bourque, Roy and Hasek. The future first ballot Hall of Famer has been worth between 12.0-26.8 GVT every season of his career but one (6.6 GVT in 1992-93). It seems he could play for practically forever.
Answer: If any team can survive, it's Detroit. But when Lidstrom finally hangs them updon't kid yourselvesit's a big, big loss.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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