Derek Lalonde oversaw noticeable special teams improvement

Despite missing the playoffs, Derek Lalonde brought improvements to Detroit Red Wings' special teams and goals against. The team will focus on next year.

The 2022-23 regular season schedule is officially coming to a close tonight for Derek Lalonde and the Detroit Red Wings (35-36-10), who have missed the postseason for the 7th consecutive year. They'll also finish 7th overall in the tightly packed and heavily competitive Atlantic Division.

The year began with plenty of personnel changes, none more significant than Lalonde coming over from the Tampa Bay Lightning to replace Jeff Blashill as the 28th head coach in franchise history. Tonight, Lalonde and the Red Wings take on the Lightning in their regular season finale before heading into the offseason.

Key Points

  • Derek Lalonde took over a rebuilding Red Wings squad
  • Despite finishing outside of the playoffs, the organization did see improvement
  • Detroit's special teams saw the biggest improvements

Why It Matters

“Absolutely,” Lalonde explained about the improvements in Detroit's special teams' play. “Vastly improved, we're flirting with the top half on both, despite where our personnel was down the stretch.”

Lalonde then was sure to give a shoutout to his coaching staff and a surprising figure who has helped give a jolt into the powerplay.

“Bob Boughner (an assistant coach who oversees the penalty kill) hasn't had a top-four group forward-wise all year long through injury or trades,” Lalonde continued.

It was forward Alex Chiasson who started the year without an NHL contract and was signed to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins and eventually called up to the Red Wings. Out of his six goals, five of them have been with the man advantage.

“Alex Chiasson was on his couch two months ago, and now he's helping our No. 1 power play (unit),” Lalonde said.

The Red Wings also saw their goals against improve from second to last in 2022 (3.78) to 22nd (3.33) this year.

“Team defense, underlying numbers (analytically) have improved; those are areas we wanted to improve on,” Lalonde said. “We hit them all. It's still not good enough. We're not going to be in the playoffs. But we checked off some boxes. But it's just a step. There's still a way to go.”

Derek Lalonde By The Numbers

As of right now, Lalonde led the Red Wings to a six-point improvement over last year's record of 32-40-10. Detroit's powerplay improved from 26th overall (16.3%) last season to 16th overall (21.3%) this year, while their penalty killing improved from dead last (73.8%) in 2021-22 to a more respectable 78.5% (18th overall).

The Bottom Line

There were plenty of factors as to why Detroit wasn't more successful this year, perhaps none bigger than the combined losses of both Tyler Bertuzzi and Jakub Vrana after just the second game of the schedule. Following tonight's game, Detroit will turn its attention to the offseason and the upcoming NHL Draft as they work towards what will hopefully be a return to the postseason in Lalonde's 2nd year behind the bench.