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Khan: the Red Wings’ special teams are no longer weaknesses

The Red Wings are still 10 minutes away from landing in San Jose after spending last night in Phoenix, and there's no point in sitting on this story until the team practices at 2 or 3 PM PDT (see: 5 or 6 PM EDT), so...

In an "on-day" article, MLive's Ansar Khan duly notes that the Red Wings' power play stank on ice early on,  as did the Wings' penatly-killing unit...

But the Wings have scored power play goals in 8 straight games now, and that comes as no surprise to coach Babcock--or his charges:

“Our specialty teams in the first 10 games were awful, both the power play and the penalty kill,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “We had a change in staff (Jeff Blashill became head coach in Grand Rapids, replaced by Tom Renney), also have a bunch of different players. So when you put it all together it takes some time. I thought it was coming on, but it never really went in the net for us and now it's going in the net.''

After a day off Tuesday, the Red Wings will return to practice today, in preparation for Thursday's game in San Jose (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit), when they will attempt to sweep this four-game West Coast trip. Detroit's power play is tied for 18th in the NHL at 17.6 percent.

“We got two units, that makes it way better,'' Babcock said. “Instead of a one-minute power play, you got a two-minute power play with two units.''

The second unit, in recent games, has consisted of Valtteri Filppula, Daniel Cleary and Gustav Nyquist up front, with Ian White and Jakub Kindl at the points.

“The second unit is doing good things for us, they've been starting a lot of power plays,'' captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Even if they don't score it gives us the momentum to keep going. Sometimes the (penalty killers) get caught out there tired and really gives us the advantage.''

...

“Right now we're shooting the puck and getting the pucks back,'' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We're entering the zone and we're doing a lot of things right. We get good looks even though we don't score on each and every one. It definitely feels like we got something going.''

FYI/FTR:

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Comments

w2j2's avatar

What the heck is this? 

Jacob Kindl leads the team in plus/minus at +17!

surprised

Posted by w2j2 on 03/27/13 at 04:24 PM ET

Zqto's avatar

Jacob Kindl leads the team in plus/minus at +17!

surprised

Posted by w2j2

Please, stop making me remember that stat
It makes me feel like Hockey is some twisted no-sense african-asian-mixed sport that I have no clue on the rules

Every time I see him as our top +/- makes my head go numb trying to figure out a freaking reason for it

Posted by Zqto on 03/27/13 at 04:48 PM ET

Avatar

Every time I see him as our top +/- makes my head go numb trying to figure out a freaking reason for it

Partial explanation from you neighborhood stats heathen:

(1) ROLE

Kindl has emerged as a decent NHL defender but he’s still playing fairly sheltered minutes against lesser opponents. No Red Wing defender draws easier opponents on average than Kindl based on the qualcomp metrics at behindthenet.

This is partially confirmed by looking at the opponents with whom Kindl has most frequently shared ice. While Kronwall has the likes of Perry, Getzlaf, Parise, and Backes (i.e., other team’s top forwards) in his 10 most frequent opponents list, Kindl’s top 10 is mostly composed of mediocre defenders and secondary scorers.

In short, he’s an okay defender playing against guys who are mostly no better or somewhat worse than him.

(2) DUMB LUCK

With Kindl on the ice, Detroit’s goalies have a save percentage of .958 (which is unusually high, even when taking into account the general crappiness of the opposition when Kindl is on the ice). Meanwhile, when Kindl is on the ice Detroit’s shooting percentage is a ridiculous 11.88% (which means opposition goalies are only stopping shots at a .881 rate).

Both those numbers have a lot more to do with randomness due to insufficient sample sizes than anything relating to Kindl’s play.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 03/27/13 at 08:48 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.