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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#101 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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#103 Nighteyes
November 01 2013, 09:02PM
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Macdonald, I have one question for you. Why?

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#104 funkyjaman
November 01 2013, 09:07PM
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I feel bad for the young guys on this team. It must be frustrating to put forward good efforts each night only to be let down by below NHL level goaltending and poor motivation levels by the (most) vets on this team. Its going to be the un-doing of this rebuilding team this season.

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#105 maimster
November 01 2013, 09:19PM
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Not watching the game, but I will say that I was really having fun watching this team when Stajan and Cammy weren't in the lineup, when they were playing Backlund a bunch and depending upon mostly young guys. Add in Ramo to that, and I'd be happy to watch the effort. I think they're less fun to watch with Backlund on fourth line and Glencross/Jones/Cammy playing so many damn minutes.

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#106 And
November 01 2013, 09:29PM
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RKD wrote:

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.

That is why we lose so many games!like we will tonight!

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#107 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:50PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Let's cut the name calling guys. Clyde likes his conventional hockey thoughts. That's fine.

Thanks kent. And, if I seem to be offending people who are stronger proponents of advanced stats, that is not my intent. I happen to use some to inform me as a former player and coach myself. But, I am trying to offer some differing opinions. I am not offended by being called a name. He is just a passionate Flames fan with an opinion.

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#108 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:55PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I actually expected that you would have embraced the title, since you get a lot of attension working it. You don't present any supporting arguments for you opinions. No clear reasoning, no new information, nothing new. By my observation, you simple mock anyone that utters anything that isn't generally acknowledged by mainstream media. So yeah, you are a troll. And, by the way no body cares that you are a hockey guy - whatever that means.

Hi , I guess by hockey guy , I have been around the game for over 40 years as a player, coach, athlete developer for about 40 years and a a Flames fan since Lanny came to town. Not trying to mock you and sorry if that is your perception.

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#109 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:58PM
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seve927 wrote:

We're all hockey guys. That's why we read this site. That should be self-evident.

Point taken.

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#110 flameon47
November 01 2013, 10:26PM
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Another horrible night in net for Macbackup and Ramo doesn't seem to be all that much better (neither one of them have been putting up close to average numbers in net). I think Feaster and Hartley are secretly trying to tank the season by purposely giving us bad goaltending. So we can still watch our scorers score and get all excited, but while still making sure we have horrible goaltending so that we don't stay ahead in the goal department, but to be honest Abby probably has better goaltending than our Flames team because Ortio and Berra must be better options in net than Ramo and are CERTAINLY without a doubt better options than Macbadbucks(since he was a waste of money). Although playing in net behind defencemen like the SOB trio cannot be an easy task even when we have better options than either of those three too. It will be nice to see Billins play for us and show he is one of those better options.

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#111 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 01 2013, 10:26PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Let's cut the name calling guys. Clyde likes his conventional hockey thoughts. That's fine.

thank you. It get's very uncomfortable.

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#112 Burnward
November 01 2013, 10:39PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Okay. So...

If you watched a car speed by you and thought "That guy's going really fast. Like, 100." And a cop beside you with a laser guided speed recorder leaned over and told you it was actually 65, would you discount his evidence?

Caahhhhhm ahhhhhnnnn Kent.

You know that's a silly argument to use here. Simply talking about breaking down a hockey game.

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#113 SmellOfVictory
November 01 2013, 03:30PM
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@Baalzamon

Glad you enjoyed it. Another bonus is that people would stop complaining about his faceoff percentage. :D

That said, I like him as a centre as well. But if it came to him either losing a spot on the team/being traded or being tried at D, it would be interesting (possibly a spectacular failure, but who knows? He's a smart kid).

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#114 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 04:15PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

"You mention soccer and basketball. I mentioned neither. I don't consider those overly physical sports (I have played both). "

Well, I won't completely disagree with you, but in spite of being ostensibly a non-contact sport, soccer can get very rough. I know this from experience.

Of course, I'm also tiny. That was likely at least half the problem...

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#115 Clyde
November 01 2013, 04:42PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

You mention soccer and basketball. I mentioned neither. I don't consider those overly physical sports (I have played both).

I did mention Auzzy Rules Footbal (my new 2nd favorite sport to watch next to hockey), Rugby and Football, none of which allow fighting.

I'm not saying I'm completely against fighting in hockey at this point, however I think if the NHL came out next week and said "no fighting allowed", I wouldn't be disappointed.

As human beings we have to learn how to handle our anger and agression through all frustrating aspects of our life. You start punching someone in the face because you're mad at them - you could go to jail. Rugby, Auzzy rules Football and Football players had to learn to control their agression and not face punch. Just sayin'

I played rugby too. Tons of punches thrown in that sport bud. And,the odd tilt too. Just saying

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#116 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 04:46PM
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@SoCalFlamesFan

fair point, but i would consider breaking when you see a police car a reflexive habit as opposed to a calculus. hence people do it even when they are not speeding.

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#117 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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#118 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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#119 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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#120 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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#121 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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#123 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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#124 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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#125 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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#126 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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#128 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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#129 Monaertchi Gaudnett
November 01 2013, 08:09PM
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I officially like the thirds.

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#130 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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#131 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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#132 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 08:18PM
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Hit a double post!

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

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#134 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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#135 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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#136 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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#139 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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#140 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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#141 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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#142 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:01PM
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@Baalzamon

This site tries to

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#143 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 09:06PM
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was macdonald literally asleep on that shot?

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#144 Brent G.
November 01 2013, 09:28PM
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Man this crazy is on a crazy down swing. I guess that beginning of the year play was more flash in the pan than pleasant surprise this year.

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#145 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 09:29PM
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Clyde wrote:

I guess you don't like alternative opinions

You are a troll. And I think you meant different opinions.

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#146 beloch
November 01 2013, 09:42PM
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@Kent Wilson

Can't we all agree to just call MacFivehole names? He's so bad that, if we promised to keep playing him, the city of Edmonton would gladly volunteer to cover Mac's salary!

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#147 Clyde
November 01 2013, 10:02PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Which is why I don't boot you from the site clyde. I disagree with you, often, but I don't simply want an echo chamber here either.

Have we ever agreed? Lol

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#148 Clyde
November 01 2013, 10:04PM
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Burnward wrote:

One save away again. Monahan sure be filthy though...that kid is officially legit in my book.

Oh...and Clyde, I got your back.

I really wanted us to get lindholm. Although very early, I am really liking how things turned out. And, thanks.

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#149 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 10:07PM
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@Clyde

Okay, I didn't intend on starting anything with you or anyone else here, but you may want to look over your comments tonight. Maybe you were just having fun, but it came off (to me anyway) like you were mocking. I apologise for the fireworks.

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