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Detroit Red Wings Two-Minute Analysis: What's Wrong with the Offense?

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Robert Prezioso

We're eight games into the season. The Red Wings sit third in their division, just one point behind Tampa Bay with a game in hand. They're on a 102-point pace. At some point they're going to come out of the part of their schedule where it seems they only play contenders (and Philly). There are a lot of things to be positive about over the handful of contests we've seen so far.

And then there's the offense.

The good news is that if the defense keeps playing like they have, they'll allow only as many goals as last year's best defensive team, the Los Angeles Kings. The bad news is that their offensive pace has them set to fall short of the 29th-best scoring team Florida Panthers' 196 goals. So what's wrong with the team? What's the reason that people are clamoring for the call-up of Teemu Pulkkinen or burning cats to speed the return of Anthony Mantha?

Well for one, it doesn't help that the owner of 11% of Detroit's total scoring (and 25% of their game-winning goals) is out with a groin injury right now. That would certainly help, but let's look at the non-fancystats to figure out this problem.

1. They Don't Shoot Often Enough

For the team with the 9th-most minutes per game on the power play and a positive PP/PK advantage, the Wings should be putting more pucks on net. They're 18th in the league at 29.5 shots per game. This figure is affected by the sample size, but league average last year was over 30. The figure needs to come up.

Individually, here is the complete list of players who are above last year's league average for shots per game among their position

Player Shots/Game
Henrik Zetterberg 3.25
Tomas Tatar 2.5
Justin Abdelkader 2.375
Gustav Nyquist 2.25
Jakub Kindl 1.625

(Forwards averaged 1.78 shots/game last season and defensemen 1.44 per Quanthockey)

Ok, that will certainly be a part of it. 18 skaters on the team on any given night, you can't have just five of them carrying the offensive load. You already know this is a two-sided coin though. Pavel Datsyuk is only averaging 1.33 shots per game and he's on pace for 27 goals over 82 games.

2. They Don't Shoot Well Enough

SHOT QUALITY!

You're going to do well only shooting once per game if you're a 50% shooter. That kind of accuracy will earn you more than 40 goals in a season if you can keep it up. Too bad you can't. Nobody can. The Wings have four guys shooting over 20% right now (including magical regression-proof Gustav Nyquist). They've got two more above 10%. Riley Sheahan is just about league average at 9.1%. Everybody else sucks.

The Wings as a team are shooting 7.63% right now. That's about 1% below where they've been over the last several seasons. Put another way, that's 2.36 fewer goals than expected just based on a drop in the number of shots that go in. Correcting that up, the Wings would be looking at 21 more goals over the year, which would still have them in the bottom-third of the league

Burn the Village?

No. The Wings are a bit unlucky shooting right now. Eyeball test tells us that they're doing a lot of things right and just not getting results (especially Tatar). They're probably not getting enough shots from down low, but they're also not getting enough shots from everywhere. The solution for the Wings is to shoot more and shoot better (and not get worse defensively). Simple as that!