Half a Bucket of Wings
The most obvious observation one could make about the Wings at the mid-point of the season is that team skill does not match the points earned. Indeed, despite what the points may indicate, the Wings have not been dominating anyone with 8 of the 31 wins (26%) coming in OT or the shootout.
While the team still faces the very real possibility of dropping out of the play-offs if the bounces start going the other way they also have a long history of beating the odds. Here’s a quick look at how various players and units have performed.
Top 6 Forwards – Grade A-
The tandems of Giroux-Versteeg and Grabovski-Stepan have found chemistry giving the team an effective 1-2 punch. While Grabovski’s production has dipped a little recently they have all hovered around the point per game mark for most of the season.
While not the scariest lines in the league they have produced above well expectations which is why the Grade was so high.
Bottom 6 forwards – Grade C+
Lacking defensive forwards the players in the lineup have been called upon to do their best defensively while trying to chip in a few. Results have been mixed as defensively the GM believes they can do better than they are, especially Belanger and McMillan, but they’ve also chipped in offensively more than was expected with 33 goals (12 by Sykora).
Defense – Grade C-
In most respects the defense corps has performed pretty much to expectations. Corvo has provided some offense from the blueline but overall production has been modest. Meanwhile the group has been capable defensively but has more than a few areas it will need to improve upon if they hope to go anywhere this year.
Goaltending – Grade A-
He may still be looking for that elusive first shutout of the season but Lundqvist continues to be one of the top goaltenders. Over the season he has consistently hung around 5th in both GAA and save percentage while having faced the most shots.
Penalty Killing – Grade D
While the GM is the biggest problem in not having acquired the right guys for the job the units have still underperformed with a meager 75% efficiency. Fortunately team discipline gets an A+ grade as discipline has been a hallmark of this team for several years. The Wings are currently tied with the Leafs for the fewest number of PK attempts at 77 and despite the horrible PK% is also tied for the lead in fewest PK goals against at 19 in 45 games.
Powerplay – Grade D
The biggest head scratcher for the Wings has been the effectiveness of their PP units. The Wings have had the second most PP opportunities at 155 but have not taken advantage recording a mere 32 goals (middle of the pack). If this team is going anywhere it needs to solve this conundrum.
On a board dominated by trade blocks (for prospects/picks) and prospect lists I’ll continue to do my best to get something on these boards about the actual season.
Don't forget financial debates! :P
Good to see this coverage, Drew, if less good to still be feeling the sting of your Wings' dominance over the season series... Here's hoping your "more with less" luck runs out by the time we meet in the playoffs!
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