from Harman Dayal of The Athletic,
Let’s dig into the NHL’s five most surprising playoff contenders (we’re only talking playoffs for now, the Cup contention debates can be saved for later) this season, presented in no particular order, and analyze whether they can realistically keep it up....
Biggest question mark(s) and outlook: Detroit, unfortunately, profiles like a team that should fade. They don’t have enough superstar, elite offensive pieces — Larkin’s been excellent this season but there isn’t a single player on pace to eclipse the point-per-game mark. That explains why the Red Wings are 24th in the league in goals for per game.
Detroit’s controlled just 45.1 percent of five-on-five shot attempts which ranks 28th in the NHL, ahead of only the lowly Blue Jackets, Ducks, Coyotes and Blackhawks. They rank 29th in controlling five-on-five scoring chances according to Natural Stattrick. Teams that get outshot and outchanced by wide margins at even strength can stay afloat if they have elite special teams but their power play (25th) and penalty kill (18th) both rank below league average.
The first two weeks of December presented a challenging schedule and the Red Wings have started to crumble. They’ve lost to all of the Golden Knights, Stars, Panthers, Hurricanes and Wild this month, with their only wins coming against the Lightning and Blue Jackets.
Despite their decent record, their goal differential is already minus six.
This has been an encouraging year of progress, but I wouldn’t bank on the Red Wings staying alive in the stacked Eastern Conference’s playoff mix.
Making the playoffs confidence meter: 1.5/5
more ($) on the Wings and other teams too...