Red Wings: Penalty Kill & Power Play – Regress or Progress?

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After a pretty busy off-season, the Detroit Red Wings are expected to progress this year. With the addition (and subtraction) of multiple players and important prospects inching their way to the roster, it looks as though overall progression is inevitable. But is that the case for the special teams?

Penalty Kill

The Red Wings penalty kill unit wasn’t especially effective last year; at 78.7 percent, they finished 22nd in the league.

Although the pk wasn’t especially good, it never really fell apart. And considering the team’s other special teams unit, the power play (second worst percentage in the league), it was just fine. The Red Wings lost their two best penalty killers in the off-season: Luke Glendening and Darren Helm. The duo’s talents might be easily replaceable on the fourth line, but the efficiency on the penalty kill might be a bit harder to replicate.

Pius Suter will be the biggest factor in keeping the pk afloat. His intelligent two-way style of play fits in well on a pk unit. He often found himself killing power play in Chicago last season. However, it’s tough for a single player to shoulder the entire load of penalty kill; Chicago’s pk was the fourth worst in the league last year. If Detroit wants to keep afloat or even improve on the pk, another player will need to step up.

Power Play

It is just about impossible for the Red Wings to regress on the man advantage. The team finished second to last in the NHL with a 11.4 percent success rate.

Alex Tanguay, the new assistant coach replacing Dan Bylsma, is the new leader of the Wings special teams. Bringing in a more offensively-minded coach with some recent results on the power play (Coached for the Iowa Wild last season, who possessed the fifth best power play percentage in the American Hockey League) will very likely act as a boost for the team.

More importantly, the Wings added a few new faces to the roster. Nick Leddy and Suter are the biggest additions to the team and their strengths will have an immediate affect on the power play. One of the major faults of the Detroit power play last season was puck movement, and Leddy is a puck-moving defenseman. He can shift offensive possession quickly and efficiently until an opportunity arises, whether it be a shot from the point or a high-danger pass.

Last season, Suter played a role with the Chicago Blackhawks power play unit, which was the 11th best in the regular season (21.7 percent). He’s not going to jump right into the power play and score buckets of goals; Suter’s role will be more as the smart, safe center that can steer offensive play in the right direction.

The Detroit Red Wings are getting better. The 2019-20 season looks like the low point, as prospects and other new players are helping turn around the roster. The Wings haven’t had good special teams in some time – even if there isn’t too much progression this season, the changes being made should be exciting for Detroit fans.

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