It is strange to view a team that is 4-4-2 in such a positive light, but after the past 5 seasons of no playoffs we finally have some idea of what the fruits of the Red Wings rebuild looks like. With a mix of talented young players and NHL veterans it has been a more promising start than years past. Here are the things that have stood out the most to me thus far.
Dylan Larkin Revenge Tour
Dylan Larkin was an elite player in the 18-19 season where he scored 73 points in 76 games, including 32 goals. He improved his two-way game the past two seasons finishing with 53 and 23, both being shortened seasons due to the pandemic. This season Larkin is back on his 18-19’ season pace with 8 points in 8 games (3G and 5A) and he has been the Red Wings best player. The line of Bertuzzi- Larkin-Raymond has been one of the best lines in the league, with 56:37 of TOI (time on ice together) they have a Corsi For of 57.66% according to Natural Stattrick compared to the perfection line in Boston, which is considered the best line in the NHL who has played roughly 20 more minutes together and have CF of 59.85%. That 20 minute difference would be counted for with the games that Larkin and Bertuzzi have missed. If the Red Wings have any expectations to push for playoffs, it all starts and ends with the play of Dylan Larkin and so far it has been good. Also to note Larkin is set to miss his second game in a row Thursday in Boston due to personal reasons. I hope whatever the reasons are that he and his family are alright and healthy.
Moritz Seider is the Top Defenseman
Seider has quickly acclimated himself to the NHL game and was recently named the rookie of the month for the whole league. He has recorded 8 assists in 10 games played, which is second only to Lucas Raymond. His point total was the most assists/points by a Red Wings defenseman ever in that time span. His ice-time has slowly increased from game 1 until now and played his career high 26:31 in a 3-2 OTL to the Panthers. He has been very noticeable in disrupting plays in all three zones
He’s been a bright spot on the red wings d-core and in a tough loss to Montreal last night he recorded 6 shots in a game that the Red Wings weren’t generating offense. He has been promoted to the 1st power play where he has looked very confident and making plays. As young defenseman develop there are growing pains and Seider is no exception ( the turnover in TOR), but he does a great job of moving on from mistakes and then immediately making up for them. Here’s the play immediately after a almost costly turnover
Seider walks the blue line, fakes as it looks like he is going to shoot, then quickly passes down to Filip Zadina for the goal. I don’t expect that Seider keeps up this scoring pace but it’s very possible that we see 35+ points this season with the amount of ice-time the 20-year old rookie is seeing.
Lucas Raymond Has Impressed
Most fans including myself were shocked to see Lucas Raymond on the opening night roster. Now 10 games in he has well exceeded all Red Wings’ fans expectations with 4 goals and 5 assists, leading all rookies in scoring. He also became the second player in Red Wings' history to score a hat trick as a teenager, the other being Steve Yzerman. So far Raymond has been a lock on that first line and it is not just because of his offensive output. Coach Blashill has pointed to Raymond’s strong two-way game, which has been a part of his game dating back to him being drafted out of the SHL. It’s unrealIstic to think that Raymond will score at a 74-point pace as a 19 year old, but if he sticks with Larkin and Bertuzzi it’s very possible we see 50 points. Especially if he can score on plays like this.
Danny DeKeyser's Play is Concerning
Danny DeKeyser played 8 games in 19-20’ before needing back surgery that has had effects that have continued to linger into this season. In the shortened 20-21’ season saw DeKeyser in the press box for nearly a month and he ended up finishing the season on a decent note as he shows flashes of previous seasons. This season however DeKeyser has been a sore spot on Detroit’s blue line as he was getting caved on a pair with Filip Hronek, which led to consecutive health scratches for Hronek. DeKeyser was moved to the top pair with Moritz Seider, which has Seider playing for two. From Natural Stattrick, Seider xGF and xGA (expected goals for and against per 60 minutes of play) have gotten worse. Without DeKeyser, Seider has an xGF of 3.49 and a xGA of 2.35. With DeKeyser, xGF of 1.73 and xGA and xGA 3.25. DeKeyser has been referred to by coach Blashill as a top-4 defenseman and a “human eraser” and I am not seeing that this year. With play like this I am curious how long DeKeyser will stay in the lineup.
Power play Is Improved But Still Has Issues
Last season we had the infamous 0/40 power play goal drought broken by Christian Djoos last season and the Wings finished 31st in the league on the man advantage that was run by Dan Blysma. After moving in a different direction, the hiring of Alex Tanguay, ex-NHLer of more than 1,000 games and a good track record on the power play. Through the preseason we saw a lot of promise in the man advantage including this Larkin beauty
10 games into the regular season the red wings sit at 14.3 percent with 5 PPG out of 35 chances which is 25th in the league. I like the looks of the power play as there is noticeably more movement and the increased use of the bumper is positive. I think the constant changing of the units due to injuries and absences are factors but puck movement needs to be more efficient which will come.