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31 in 31

Detroit Red Wings key statistics

Defense must reverse shots-against trend; center position of strength

by Rob Vollman / Correspondent is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Detroit Red Wings.


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1. Shot-based struggles

The Detroit Red Wings missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 1989-90, and the steady decline of their shot-based metrics may have been partly responsible.

Once the epitome of possession-driving hockey, the Red Wings were outshot last season for the first time since 1990-91. They averaged 28.5 shots per game, their fewest since 1989-90, and allowed 30.6, their second-worst in that time frame.

In 2014-15, Detroit outshot its opponents 3,354-2,917 at 5-on-5, for an SAT of plus-437 that ranked third in the NHL. Last season, the Red Wings were 24th after being outshot 3,560-3,316 (minus-244). Reversing this trend should be among their top priorities.


2. Defense

The first place to improve Detroit's shot-based metrics is on defense, where several of its top players have below-average statistics. 

The best way to evaluate a defenseman's shot-based metrics is to compare his team's percentage of all shot attempts when he's on the ice to when he's not. Over the past three seasons combined, the Red Wings had 2,670 shot attempts with Jonathan Ericsson on the ice at 5-on-5 and allowed 2,787, an SAT percentage of 48.93. When Ericsson wasn't on the ice at 5-on-5, Detroit was responsible for 52.2 percent of shot attempts. The minus-3.3 percent difference ranked 175th among the 198 defensemen who played at least 100 NHL games.

The Red Wings' other top defensemen had below-average relative SAT percentages over the past three seasons too. Danny DeKeyser was minus-2.8, Niklas Kronwall was minus-2.8, and Trevor Daley, who signed as a free agent July 1, was minus-4.5.

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3. Strength at center

The Red Wings have three versatile and effective centers: captain Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen and Darren Helm. All three are solid two-way players who can be used in any situation, including the shootout. 

Over the past three seasons, Zetterberg, Nielsen and Helm averaged 2.6, 2.1 and 2.1 shots per game and had above-average relative SAT percentages of plus-1.3, plus-0.8 and plus-1.9. 

In the faceoff circle, their winning percentages were 51.0, 50.8 and 52.1, and they were a combined 15-for-43 in the shootout. In terms of penalty differential, they were plus-11, plus-22 and plus-39.

No matter which perspective is used, the Red Wings can build the rest of their young lineup around these three veteran players.

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