1. Their awful Penalty Kill versus our bad Powerplay
The Panthers have the league’s second-worst penalty kill so far this season. They’re killing a paltry 72.22% of penalties. Special teams have become somewhat of a mixed bag for the Wings over these past few games, but tonight seems like a good opportunity to get the powerplay moving. Granted, our powerplay (15%, 22nd in the league) isn’t much better than the penalty killing unit they’ll be facing.
2. Speaking of Penalty Kills... Stop taking penalties
The Wings have surrendered 47 powerplay opportunities through 11 games. That’s on pace to finish with about 350 shorthanded situations through 82 games. The league average over the past few seasons is somewhere around 250. Granted, the slashing rule change has contributed to a lot of that. And the Wings aren’t the only ones on pace to give up over 4 powerplays per game. But the other teams giving up a similar number of powerplays are good enough to win despite that. The Wings need every advantage they can get whereas a team like the Penguins or Lightning can survive a few mistakes.
3. Keep up the good work in net
Without Jimmy Howard, the Wings are likely still searching for their first win this season. He’s kept the Wings in all but one game he’s played. To say he’s currently one of the 10 best goalies in the league is not something I’d dispute. He’s been great (and this good start is actually just him picking up where he left off last season), so if needed, let’s lean on him as much as possible.
If the Wings have a chance to take a risk that might work out in a goal for them or an odd-man rush the other way, I’d like to see them take it. You’ve got nothing left to lose at this point and a rock-solid netminder behind you. Take some chances, and have confidence that Jimmy Howard is going to back you up when they don’t work out.