FGD: The Red Wings are Coming!

Kent Wilson
November 01 2013 09:49AM

 

 

The former juggernaut Detroit Red Wings aren't quite as run down as their unfortunate home town, but cracks are finally starting to show in the armor. Right now, Detroit is 14th in the league in terms of score-close possession, a metric they routinely dominated for years. Datysuk and Zetterberg are growing long in the tooth, but for now remain top drawer two-way players. 

The divide between them and the rest of the club continues to grow, however. Absent Lidstrom, the team doesn't have a third elite leg to support the rest of the average stool (yeesh...talk about your clumsy metaphors). Only three other forwards are in the black in terms of possession so far - Bertuzzi, Alfredsson and Abdlekader. And Bertuzzi mostly plays with Datsyuk and Zetterberg (meaning he's not driving that number). Alfredsson is 40-years old and Abdelkader hangs out at the end of the rotation. Johan Franzen is close (49%), but there's a big drop off after him.

The biggest disappointment for the Wings must be Stephen Weiss. He has the worst possession rate on the team (43%) even with a sky-high zone start ratio (57%). Weiss was a pretty good player in Florida for a long time, but his numbers started slipping over the his two seasons as a Panther. He was supposed to anchor the Wings second scoring line, but he's sinking the boat instead.

All of which is an overly long way to say - the Red Wings are still good, but they don't appear to be ridiculously good anymore. They have two elite forwards, some decent support pieces and a whole bunch of meh. If the Flames can cage Datsyuk and Zetterberg (easier said than done, I know), then they have chance to outplay the Wings so-so depth.

The Lineup

Hartley announced yesterday Backlund would slide back into the line-up and Joey MacDondald would get a turn after Ramo's *ahem* "performance" against the Leafs. Her's how things will probably shape up:

  • Glencross - Stajan - Jones
  • Galiardi - Colborne - Cammalleri
  • Baertschi - Monahan - Hudler
  • Bouma - Backlund - McGrattan

  • Russell - Wideman
  • Brodie - Butler
  • O'Brien - Smith

  • MacDonald

A lot of plaudits have been handed to Joe Colborne over his recent play and particularly his 23 minute game vs Toronto the other night, but I still find the decision making governing his usage rather bizarre - at least relative to other players on the club. Colborne has certainly looked better over the last few games compared to his first few (where he was completely lost) and in general I am not opposed to coach playing the heck out of a few young guys this year for informational and developmental purposes.

Here's the thing - Colborne hasn't been that good so far. Certainly not "usurp Backlund" good. The former Leaf has been fed some of the softest minutes of any forward on the team (65.5% zone start) and yet on Wednesday night he boasted the worst even strength scoring chance ratio on the Flames (3 for, 9 against). He's nowhere near a 20 minute per night center yet and I don't see what he's done to privilege him above players like Backlund or Baertschi (who have seen their minutes limited or slashed at both ES and on the PP).

Maybe it's a motivational thing. Maybe Hartley is using different reinforcement techniques with different players. But on the face of it, the disparate treatment of certain guys on the team seems...incongruous.

The Opposition

It's the Datsyuk line and then everyone else. Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Bertuzzi
  • Cleary - Franzen - Alfredsson
  • Tatar - Weiss - Abdelkader
  • Miller - Andersson - Eaves

  • Kronwall - DeKeyser
  • Quincey - Smith
  • Kindl - Lashoff

  • Howard

Detroit's blueline is somewhat underwhelming as well. Kronwall is a legitimate top pairing guy at this point and most teams could probably get away with Smith and Ericsson (currently injured) in their top-4, but the rest of the defense brigade is trouble.

DeKeyser was a highly sought after College free agent, but he's only 24 games into his NHL career. Quincey is kind of the Wing's version of Chris Butler - he has some tools, but always seems to end up a scapegoat at the end of too many games. Kindl is still trying to find his way at the NHL level and Lashoff (Brian, not Matt) is a 23 year old rookie and former free agent signing who has been plying his trade in Grand Rapids for the last few years. HIs resume reminds of Adam Pardy's when he made the Flames a few years ago. 

We've discussed the forward unit, though I'd like to add I continually wonder what power Todd Bertuzzi holds over the Detroit Red Wing organization - he's 38 year old, he was a suspect two-way player even as a Flame back in 2008-09, he hasn't scored more than 45 points in six seasons and he only has four points 12 games this year...and yet he's skating with Dats and Zetterberg at ES. I don't get it.

Sum it Up

Detroit's first line is a powerhouse and can take a game over all by themselves. Calgary has no true power on power option that can be reasonably expected to take them on, but some nights you have hold the big guns in check via luck or hard work (or both). The key to the game will be to minimizing the damage from those guys and then outplaying the Wing's much softer underbelly.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#51 RKD
November 01 2013, 05:46PM
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Brian Burke is coaching this team from behind the scenes, already called Sven out publicly. I don't think he is a fan of Backlund either. He wants guys like Colborne playing a lot. He probably wants truculence in the lineup as well. This is why we see Jackman and McGrattan over guys like Roman Horak.

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#52 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 06:10PM
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No Billins tonight for the Heat. Possible callup?

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#53 chillout
November 01 2013, 06:23PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

you've obviously never been in a scrum. tons of face punching and dirty stuff going in there.

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#54 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 06:41PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

No Billins tonight for the Heat. Possible callup?

Based upon stats from the Heat d he is the most likely. He was an important addition in the off season. Lets see.

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#55 schevvy
November 01 2013, 06:43PM
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Is it too early to retire the new jersey and never speak of it ever again?

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#56 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 06:49PM
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Heat tied 2-2, Ortio in net, Grandlund ties it near end of 2nd, from Knight. Don't know who scored in the first.

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#57 Ryan Pike
November 01 2013, 06:49PM
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@schevvy

I think it looks pretty good. The logo's just too wacky for me.

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#58 schevvy
November 01 2013, 06:53PM
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@coachedpotatoe

Reinhart scored the 1st goal assisted by Brady Lamb and Ben Street

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#59 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 06:59PM
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@coachedpotatoe

It's nice to see Granlund having a decent north american debut. I've always been sort of vaguely interrested in him as a player, being the only European drafted by Feaster and company (until Rafikov). The more so since I saw the release on his shot in the WJC last year, and then of course with his big summer.

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#60 Ryan Pike
November 01 2013, 06:59PM
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Considering that the Flames play on Sunday in Chicago, I'm not sure what the value would be of the Heat sitting somebody on Friday night if they're going to have Saturday off anyway.

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#63 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 07:31PM
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Gee nice rebound Brodeur... Er, MacDonald.

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#64 piscera.infada
November 01 2013, 07:38PM
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While I don't like Backlund playing on the fourth line. I kind of like the idea of giving Colborne a shot on the "third" line. It's a positive for this team, if they know what they have in him. He's an older (relatively) prospect, and playing him on more of a scoring line allows the org to assess if he's going to be valuable in that role moving on.

I think if by the end of this season they know what some of these kids do well, and what some of them don't do well, we'll be far better off during this rebuild.

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#65 SoCalFlamesFan
November 01 2013, 07:42PM
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Just got home, and they are down by a goal. Are they playing well, at least?

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#66 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 07:46PM
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MacDonald has effortless side-to-side movement. In that he puts no effort at all into moving side-to-side.

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#67 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 07:49PM
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I was listening to the game on the radio until just now. It sounds like the Pavel Datsyuk show.

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#69 Seamus McGill
November 01 2013, 07:51PM
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Does anyone else here think Monahan shoots the puck in a wierd way? Like, he stops and sort of flickers it as opposed to doing the whole follow through

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#70 thymebalm
November 01 2013, 07:56PM
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I think I've asked this before, but what is the mean scoring rate for scoring chances?

I know shooting is 8%, but what about strictly for scoring chances?

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#71 beloch
November 01 2013, 07:56PM
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Hartley seems to really like Russel. I suppose I like that he's not one of the SOB trio (Smith, O'Brian, Butler), but still...

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#73 thymebalm
November 01 2013, 08:03PM
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@Kent Wilson

Thanks.

Chad Billins officially on his way to the NHL.

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#74 Monaertchi
November 01 2013, 08:09PM
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I officially like the thirds.

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#75 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 08:09PM
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Heat win 4-3. Ortio gets his first full AHL game. BJones, Grandlund and Rhino with 2. Knight gets two helpers. Al least some good news there.

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#76 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 08:11PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I've found it's about 15-16%.

Interesting. Have you noticed if a players scoring rate roughly doubles when shooting in a chance area?

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#77 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 08:18PM
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I think I'd like the New Jersey better, if they wore a red helmet. It doesn't look like a Flames team.

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#78 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 08:18PM
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Hit a double post!

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#79 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 08:20PM
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thymebalm wrote:

Thanks.

Chad Billins officially on his way to the NHL.

Nailed it.

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#80 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 08:23PM
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Yay BUTLER!

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#83 piscera.infada
November 01 2013, 08:30PM
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@beloch

I don't really get the distaste for Russel. I think he's been very good to start the season. Great skater with the puck.

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#84 Clyde
November 01 2013, 08:31PM
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@Kent Wilson

True. A tough game to predict based on things like corsi

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#85 piscera.infada
November 01 2013, 08:36PM
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@Clyde

Maybe I don't understand it fully, but wouldn't corsi in this case, help to explain that goal?

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#86 beloch
November 01 2013, 08:38PM
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@piscera.infada

It's not really distaste, just an overwhelming feeling of mehness. I definitely think he's a cut above the SOB trio and the best option to step up with Gio out. I also think that's not exactly great.

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#87 beloch
November 01 2013, 08:39PM
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I'd like to see the shoulder-patches on these jersey's moved to the center of the jersey, the script "Calgary" dropped, and some white striping replaced with yellow.

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#88 piscera.infada
November 01 2013, 08:40PM
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@beloch

Alright. I would say given his age, I'm interested to see if he can develop a little more over the course of the season. He's light years ahead of where I thought he would be.

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#91 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 01 2013, 08:46PM
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I'd like to see Backlund on a line with Barechee and Monahan

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#92 beloch
November 01 2013, 08:47PM
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@piscera.infada

Russel might go down as a bit of a steal given that he was picked up in exchange for a fifth round pick. However, he's 26 and probably pretty close to his peak. WYSIWYG (probably).

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#94 beloch
November 01 2013, 08:51PM
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Those skate-shields seem sub-optimal. I wonder if they could make them out of something a little less hard/rigid so they behave more like unprotected skates while still offering the same protection. Maybe a better idea is to build some kind of added protection into the skates themselves?

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#95 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 08:53PM
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looks like hartley is rolling all four lines more than usual, which is nice (especially with backlund still stuck on the fourth)...

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#96 Clyde
November 01 2013, 08:53PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

What metrics would you suggest instead?

This game isn't all about metrics kent.

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#97 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 08:57PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I'd like to see Backlund on a line with Barechee and Monahan

Who plays center?

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#98 seve927
November 01 2013, 08:58PM
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After calling Butler the worst player in the history of the game, I'd just like to step up and commend mattyc on defending him. He's played really, really well since I called him out ;)

And that has nothing to do with the fact he was credited with a goal. After looking out of place (in a bad way) as a 3rd pairing guy, he hasn't looked out of place as a top pairing guy.

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#99 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 08:59PM
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Clyde wrote:

This game isn't all about metrics kent.

No one anywhere ever said it was clyde.

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#100 beloch
November 01 2013, 09:01PM
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@Clyde

Whether you go by metrics or by eye, the Flames have been really good again tonight.

Edit: Ugh... Except for MacBackup.

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