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The Oddities Of The Early Red Wings Season

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Through nine games, the 2015-2016 has been one of the most frustrating, thrilling, and unusual seasons in the Detroit Red Wings illustrious history. From pummeling the Toronto Maple Leafs and former head coach Mike Babcock in the first game, to staging a furious comeback in British Columbia to steal two points from the Vancouver Canucks, there have been plenty of highlight reel moments. I'm here to showcase three interesting individual statistics from the early season.

Hank Shootin' Blanks

From 2006-2007 to 2012-2013, Henrik Zetterberg led the Wings in shots on goal in every single season. Even more impressive, in that seven season stretch, Zetterberg ranked 3rd in the entire NHL in shots on goal with 1946, trailing only Alex Ovechkin (2624) and Eric Staal (1957). However, through nine games Zetterberg has just 17 shots on goal, good for 4th on the team.

As you can see from the chart, Zetterberg has been downtrending over the last four seasons but has taken a precipitous drop this year in both 5v5 shot attempts/game and shots/game (all strengths). It's tough to argue with Z's production early on as he leads the team in points with 11, but it still is a very surprising early season development. If this trend continues, you have to wonder if Z's goal scoring numbers continue to dip. Z has scored just 45 goals combined in the past three seasons and has failed to break 20 goals in any of the individual seasons. I think the years of Z hitting 20 might be gone so the Wings will really need Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and Teemu Pulkkinen to step up.

Give Glendening All The Ice Time!

Through nine games, Luke Glendening is averaging 11.2 minutes/game at 5v5, just behind Tomas Tatar and Teemu Pulkkinen. In fact, through eight games, Glendening was actually averaging the 5th most 5v5 TOI, ahead of both Tatar and Pulkkinen. Glendening's game has never endeared himself to the analytics community as he has consistently ranked as one of the worst forwards in the NHL when it comes to 5v5 Corsi For%. This season has been no different as Glendening is sitting at an abysmal 38.5%, worst among all Detroit forwards who have played all nine games. In his career, his 5v5 TOI has generally increased in games where Detroit has blown out opponents as a part of the "score-effects" phenomenon.

However, starting around mid-February of last season, the Wings started to use Glendening in a "shut-down" role by matching his line against the opposition's top line. The results have been starkly different. Since mid-February, in games where Glendening played >25% of the 5v5 ice time during the game, the Wings average 2.30 goals/game compared to 2.71 goals/game in games where he plays <25% of available 5v5 ice time. This statistic belies the notion that Glendening's ice time is increased due to score effects (i.e. the 4th line plays more when the Wings are winning big). Additionally, in that same time frame the Wings are +8 in games where Glendening played >25% but +39 in the 21 games where he plays <25%. Plain and simple, the Wings play better offensively when his 5v5 ice time is limited. Obviously I can't blame Glendening for all the offensive struggles but his overutilization certainly isn't helping the problem.

Petr Petr Super Hero

After his blazing finish to the end of the season and his incredible heroics against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I was expecting a  bit of a letdown from the 23-year old netminder. Instead, Mrazek has picked up right where he left off and is continuing to improve. The knock on Mrazek has always been his inconsistency, but this season he has been much more consistent. Check out how his 5v5 adjusted save percentage has trended throughout his career.

As you can see, at only one other point in time has Mrazek posted five consecutive games with a 5v5 adjusted SV% greater than 93%. Right now, Mrazek ranks 4th in the NHL in 5v5 adjusted SV%, ahead of big names such as Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price, and Pekka Rinne. Jimmy Howard has also been no slouch this season, ranking 10th in the NHL in 5v5 high-danger SV%. Right now, you could argue that the only reason the Wings are at .500 is because of their outstanding goaltending. I'm excited to see how the Wings will look once the offense and defense pick up the slack.