Red Wings: Alex Tanguay hired to Fix the Power Play

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The Detroit Red Wings hired former Iowa Wild assistant coach Alex Tanguay to fill the void left by Dan Bylsma. Tanguay needs no introduction to Wings fans who remember him as part of the Wing killers from Colorado that included Peter Forsberg and Chris Drury.

Now it’s time to see if he can help inflict that same damage on others teams from the bench.

Clear from the press release, Tanguay was brought in primarily to fix the woeful power play, which has been an issue for several seasons now. Regardless of who was tasked with the job, the Wings haven’t had a competent man advantage since Jim Hiller ran it all the way back in 2014-15.

Yes the personnel on the ice has been an issue. But with help on the way with the elite prospects beginning their trek to Hockeytown, someone has to bring a new approach and a way to cultivate the talent.

Enter Tanguay. But there’s one curious thing the release didn’t cover.

Iowa’s Power Play Struggled during the Short Season

His work was with Iowa in 2019-20 was impressive. From the release:

Iowa had the AHL’s fifth-best power play in Tanguay’s first season behind the bench at 21.9 percent, and its offense was among the league’s most productive, improving from 3.08 goals per game in 2019-20 to 3.15 goals per game over a 34-game schedule in 2020-21. The Wild also had the second-best shot-per-game average in the AHL in each of the past two seasons, averaging 32.68 combined in Tanguay’s tenure with the club.

Fifth best power play in the league in 2019-20 and then the offense improved again in the shortened 2021 season.

But then there’s this season. The Wild finished dead last in power play efficiency, converting on just 13.9% of the man advantage. They were eighth in the league in power play opportunities, so it’s not as if they weren’t getting chances.

These are purely just numbers as I didn’t spend a second analyzing the Iowa Wild during the 2021 season. Record wise they were 17-13-4 and they certainly were affected (like every other team) by the taxi squad and Covid protocols. Iowa had some roster turnover as well.

Clearly Steve Yzerman and head coach Jeff Blashill see something here for the hire. But the significant drop in numbers is slightly concerning for one major reason.

The Red Wings have to move the Needle

The power play has been a problem for several seasons and now with younger players coming up to be counted on, the Red Wings have to take the next step. Some of the issue in Iowa could be personnel. Some could have been the shortened season and adjusting to what were challenging circumstances–granted all teams went through this as well. The Wild only played their Central Division opponents as well, so the sample size is limited, too.

If there was ever a season to shrug shoulders at a drop, it’s this past one. But it’s still something to note.

I’m not trying to throw cold water on it at all. No one knows what to expect until we see the team in action and we’re not even sure what the roster is even going to look like yet. This could simply be a blip on the radar.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out because ultimately what matters will be what we see on the ice.

Here’s hoping it’s an improvement. Welcome to Detroit, Coach.

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