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At The Half Way Point

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

Take a look at the standings as the Red Wings reach the halfway mark in the schedule.

It's all right to do so. Unlike the last several seasons, you'll be pleasantly surprised. You won't have a look of horror and pain.

Very likely, you'll smile. Gasp, even.

The Red Wings are 18-17-5 through 40 games and can do no worse than being a .500 team at the exact halfway marker.

Really.

Now, most everyone expected some semblance of improvement this season. The mix of all that young talent arriving, and maturing, was expected to produce benefits at some point of the rebuild.

But to do it to this extent the first half of a busy, COVID-filled, wacky schedule has been impressive.

In fact, it's entirely admissible to talk playoffs.

continued (paid) and in the slideshow, the lowest grade went to...

Filip Zadina — 38 games, four goals, seven assists. Analysis: It's as if Zadina has regressed in certain areas. There's been more defensive lapses, and the goal-scoring ability has yet to surface on a consistent basis. Too many invisible evenings, and now he's fallen out of the top six forwards and needs to show he deserves the move back up. Grade: D

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Comments

Kaszycki and his Krew's avatar

Article is behind a paywall - so not sure if Ted mentions that several other teams have games in hand on DET   (Toronto and Boston have 4 games in hand - NYI has 8 games in hand)  which impacts the playoff statement.

But that said - I like the job Steve Y is doing.  Goaltending has been very good.  Young players are getting key mins. and are improving.  Lots of improvement and I hope DET fans are pleased with the progress being made!

Posted by Kaszycki and his Krew on 01/19/22 at 04:06 PM ET

Avatar

The Zadina decision will be interesting. I don’t see enough to re-sign him.

Posted by pnwwing on 01/19/22 at 04:08 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Didn’t catch it was a paid article, now marked as so in the post.

Kulfan went on with this…

Now, the Wings are five points behind Boston (46-41), and the Bruins have played four fewer games. The Bruins also have a decidedly better win percentage (.639 to .512).

But given how unexpected this first half has been for the Wings, why not dream?

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/19/22 at 04:09 PM ET

jhpcarrier97's avatar

You can’t write Zadina off for one bad year.  His skating ability and puckhandling is still there.  His problem is between his ears. Someguy is going to come along and help him straighten that out.  For now, he needs to keep grinding away, he’s young, strong, heathy.  He’s not doing anything to help himself get a raise or up his trade value so carry him until he figures it out.  Give Vrana a project, I’d put the two of them together and tell them to figure it out, give them a center to practice with.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 01/19/22 at 04:22 PM ET

SauceBoss's avatar

Posted by pnwwing on 01/19/22 at 03:08 PM ET

Lol. What? Yeah sure, they’re just gonna let a just turned 22 yr old rfa and former 6th overall pick walk.

He’s been disappointing for sure but he’s far from a lost cause. He’ll get a short “prove it” deal similar to what Ras got and by the end of that deal if he still hasn’t figured it out then decisions will have to be made.

Here’s a stat :
Filip Zadina through 124 gp 48 pts
Jakob Vrana through his first 124 gp 51 pts

Posted by SauceBoss on 01/19/22 at 05:27 PM ET

jhpcarrier97's avatar

Hey we need to beef up Friday, Dallas and Saturday, Nashville.  We need one player to come in and cause mayhem Witkowski, not Larkin,  like last week.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 01/19/22 at 05:33 PM ET

Avatar

A few more thoughts on Zadina-

His problem may be between his ears, or its in his chest. Hard to rule either one out.
He has to be a top 6 guy because he’s not a checker.
It’s interesting to see all the support for a Kenny draft pick- a KK first? Especially one who “fell” in the draft…

Posted by pnwwing on 01/19/22 at 06:09 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I looked at the standings over Christmas and couldn’t believe it. It’s a pleasant surprise but there’s no chance they make post season. Like Kas said - lots of games in hand from other teams.

Posted by TreKronor on 01/19/22 at 06:18 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

Posted by SauceBoss on 01/19/22 at 04:27 PM ET

That let Cholowski walk at 21 in the expansion draft, why not Zadina?

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 01/19/22 at 08:15 PM ET

Avatar

I actually think making the playoffs this year would be a bad thing. While I like the improvement, the team is still a ways away from having enough talent to compete for the Cup. It needs high draft picks, and the playoffs hurt that. I am happy to take the improvement and moving in the right direction while still getting a chance in the lottery (yes, I know our past success, but still ...).

Posted by JL72 on 01/19/22 at 08:16 PM ET

SauceBoss's avatar

That let Cholowski walk at 21 in the expansion draft, why not Zadina?

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 01/19/22 at 07:15 PM ET

Cholowski is actually 23 going on 24, was/is bad defensively, advanced stats not good, demoted to the minors several times to work on his game, and didn’t make up for bad defense with offense. Which is what he was supposedly drafted for. A smooth skating offensive dman

Posted by SauceBoss on 01/19/22 at 10:00 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

I actually think making the playoffs this year would be a bad thing

Agreed. Still too many holes which need to be filled. confused

Posted by bigfrog on 01/19/22 at 11:34 PM ET

Avatar

In fact, it’s entirely admissible to talk playoffs.

Oof, no.

There is no playoff race in the East this year, at least not unless the Islanders go on one hell of a crazy run with all the games in hand they have.

Eighth place (Boston) is on pace for 105 points. Ninth place (Detroit) is on pace for 84. The Athletic’s projections has Detroit at 1% probability to make the playoffs and honestly that seems generous.

Glancing at the standings can be deceptive. The Wings have been competitive this year, and hockey is fun to watch again, but realistically we are still finishing 10+ points out of a playoff spot, even if we hang on to 9th.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/19/22 at 11:36 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Playoffs, really, LMAO Get your head out of that dark place and enjoy a fun team to watch still rebuilding. They look like they could have an exciting future with more prospects looking great, as per StevieY’s track record.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/20/22 at 04:01 AM ET

d ca's avatar

Playoffs? Playoffs? ....Are you kidding me! Playoffs?

For the wild cards: Toronto has 10 pts plus 3 games in hand on Detroit and recently got Marner back. Pittsburgh just got Malkin back and has 10 pts plus 2 games in hand on Detroit. Boston has 5 pts and 4 games in hand on Detroit plus just got Rask back in net. This is basically impossible to make up baring a collapse by one of these teams. In fact the Isles with their 8 games on hand and 7-2-1 in their last 10 with their 32 pts currently have a better shot even if a team does collapse.

Max Bultman of The Athletic recent thoughts bear highlighting:

Even after dominating the Sabres on Saturday, the Red Wings entered Monday with the lowest expected goals for percentage in the league since Nov. 30 at 40.25 percent, according to Evolving Hockey. And the root causes were at both ends of the ice. Since that date, Detroit entered Monday giving up 2.9 expected goals against per 60 minutes — fourth-worst in the league in that span — and was third-worst in the league in terms of expected goals for per 60 at just 1.95. The Red Wings’ record certainly wasn’t good in that span, but at 7-8-2, it didn’t tell the honest story of their play, either.

....Nedeljkovic’s stellar play has covered for the Wings this year. While getting Vrana back in Feb will help the expected goals for—it will be too late to make up for it in playoff standings.

Move the vets before the trade deadline, use that cap space to get extra draft capital, call up the youngsters, make some honest evaluations instead of letting Blash play them limited minutes (especially of Blash’s “ability to develop” youngsters), and unintentionally tank for better draft position. That’s what will mark a successful 2nd half.

Posted by d ca on 01/20/22 at 07:06 AM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com