The Detroit Red Wings got off to a fast start in the 2015-2016 season, winning their first three games by a combined score of 11-4. Since that start, they dropped the past two games, giving up five goals against Carolina and four goals against Montreal. While this team is capable of making a good run this season, there are two items that need to be cleaned up early or else the Red Wings could find themselves fighting for a playoff spot come April. Those two items are shots against and shots on net.
The Red Wings have a very good goaltending duo of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek. Howard has a goals against average of 2.03 while Mrazek sports a 3.02 GAA. While not alarmingly high for Mrazek, you would like to see those numbers decrease as the season moves forward. Howard’s numbers have been helped by a shutout to start the season and a one goal against performance a few nights later. At the current pace, however, the play of the defense in front of both Howard and Mrazek will only make those numbers increase. This is due to the abnormally high shots on net that opposing teams are getting on the Red Wings.
Through five games, the Red Wings are giving up 33.4 shots per game to opponents. This is good for third in the NHL, and just 1.2 S/PG behind the number one team. A high number of shots on net will allow more opportunities for rebounds and fluke goals which balloon a goalie’s GAA and leads to a team losing points in the long run.
Conversely, the Red Wings are statistically the worst team in the NHL in shots per game with 21.4 SF/G. That is a full 2.8 shots behind the second worst team and 9.9 SF/G behind the NHL leading Canadiens, who are also ranked as one of the teams who give up the least amount of shots. The Canadiens currently lead the NHL with 14 points and a 7-0-0 record.
The return of Danny DeKeyser to the blue line should help the Red Wings to limit some shots, but they need to clean up their play as they attempt to break out of the zone. Sloppy play in the neutral zone has led to too many turnovers and odd-man rushes for opponents. Tighten up these aspects and you should see less shots against and more shots for the Red Wings.