The new year is the perfect time to reassess where you’re at, where you want to be, and what you’ll do to get there.
Sure, it’s cliché in that everyone does it — but what’s the harm in that? We can learn a lot from where we’ve been and setting goals on where we want to be is psychologically proven to help us stay motivated. The Detroit Red Wings are at a point where staying the course is key. After a pretty tough loss against the Boston Bruins this last weekend, the team needs to reassess how they’ll approach the rest of the season. Will the exciting start to the season make a comeback, or will the team continue to spiral through hardships?
These four resolutions won’t fix the team overnight — but they’ll go a long way toward helping them contend again.
Resolution 1: An improved powerplay
So far, the Red Wings are 0-for-4 on the power play to start 2022, giving them the worst percentage in the NHL. Obviously, this is an isolated stat relegated to one game — but it’s a microcosm of what their power play has looked like this season. Detroit sports the second-worst power play percentage in the league with just a 14.44% success rate. Whether this is due to newcomer Alex Tanguay getting his sea legs or a sign of something bigger remains to be seen, but that doesn’t excuse the incompetent effort put forth thus far.
The Red Wings already struggle to muster goals; they’re 22nd in goals by team. Continued failure to impact the scoresheet on the power play will only further reduce those numbers. Change needs to come sooner than later. As of right now, Detroit is deploying Lucas Raymond on the bumper. Teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning use players like Brayden Point in this role as the set-up man. While Raymond is certainly no slouch in this end, he’s shown far more success as the shooter and should be deployed as such. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see things change up as the new year evolves.
Resolution 2: Tightened-up defense
Offense and defense go hand-in-hand. In Detroit’s case, it’s a rocky relationship at best. The team’s goal differential is a -22; they’re among the bottom of the league in goal differential, just a few spots short of Arizona’s abysmal -54. It doesn’t help that future star Moritz Seider is forced to carry the lion’s share of his work alongside what remains of Danny DeKeyser. Nick Leddy’s defensive regression hasn’t helped, either. Take a look at Leddy’s defensive metrics, courtesy of Evolving Hockey:
See those red bars there? Those aren’t a good sign. Leddy is cratered almost every time he’s forced to defend at both even-strength and on the penalty kill. To make matters worse, he isn’t the only one that’s struggled. Nearly every member of the defensive corps has struggled to stifle their opposition’s offense. In all likelihood, much of the current roster won’t be around next season. DeKeyser, Marc Staal, and Troy Stecher all have expiring deals, and the only players signed through 2023-24 are Filip Hronek and Moritz Seider.
Resolution 3: A big finish for the prospects
For those who haven’t been paying attention, Detroit’s prospects have been off to a great start. Prior to its cancellation, eight Red Wings were in attendance during the World Juniors. One in particular — Simon Edvinsson — has received no shortness of praise from coaches and staff alike. He’s improved on everything this season, from his shot to his confidence. A strong finish to the season would all but secure his passage onto North American ice.
"One of the bravest young men I've ever met.— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) January 2, 2022
He doesn't see any dangers, he sees only opportunities and situations where he will succeed."
️Coach Roger Rönnberg about Simon Edvinsson.
Frölunda returns to action on tuesday (CHL vs. Rögle)#LGRW pic.twitter.com/ljYlEDWVNZ
Edvinsson isn’t the only one who’s shown improvements. On the college hockey front, Carter Mazur is scoring at a point-per-game pace. Donovan Sebrango just scored his first AHL goal. Sebastian Cossa sports a .920 save percentage in a highly competitive WHL. The best surprise this season, however, is Jonatan Berggren, who has 19 points in 24 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season. It seems like his NHL debut is almost inevitable. Finishing up this season with a bang will all but punch his ticket to the big leagues.
Resolution 4: Win the Calder
The rookie-of-the-year resolution is clear — but who wins it and how it’s won remains to be seen. As of right now, Lucas Raymond appears to be the clear-cut candidate, with 28 points in 33 games. Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks is quickly catching up, however, with 25 points on the season so far. Raymond will need to continue his torrid pace in order to secure the title. Having said that, Raymond isn’t the only Calder-eligible player on the Red Wings. Two other names in particular stand out as great candidates for the title: Moritz Seider and Alex Nedeljkovic.
It’s not every day that a rookie player takes such a commanding presence on the ice. At just 20 years of age, Seider is comfortably the best defenseman on Detroit’s roster. He’s so good that he’s able to maintain positive analytical stats while playing alongside Danny DeKeyser. Whether he’s leveling star players (as shown above) or stopping the opposition, he’s made his presence known from the first game onward. While defensemen don’t often win the Calder without high point totals, Seider’s play should more than warrant some consideration.
Alex Nedeljkovic, the third of the big-name rookies on the roster, has a remarkable superpower. When things seem bleak, he’s able to stand on his head and make show-stopping saves like it’s nothing. He’s been relied on far more than a rookie goaltender should; fortunately, he’s shown that he’s more than capable of shouldering the burden. As the team improves around him, he’ll only get better as a netminder. If he can keep up the lights-out performance, he’s almost certain to earn a few Calder nominations.