Detroit Red Wings: the offensive woes are reappearing

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One of the biggest storylines of the season for the Detroit Red Wings has been the improved offensive output. Whereas last year’s team relied on fantastic goaltending, capable defense and low-risk offense, this year, the script has seemingly flipped. The defense has been porous and the offense has been surprisingly effective, especially at the top of the lineup (although, like last year, great goaltending has still been key to Detroit’s early success).

However, in the past few weeks, the Red Wings have started to regress offensively, especially evident in Detroit’s two losses since resuming play (a 3-1 loss to Washington and a 5-1 loss to Boston).

Part of the problem? The team’s offense mostly relies on production from the top line. Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond have been the key that unlocks the offense this season. When the top goal-scorers can’t find the back of the net, it spells doom for the rest of the offense.

Another issue is recent struggles on the man advantage. For the first few weeks of the season, it seemed as though the power play had improved mightily from last season’s terrible unit. Moritz Seider quickly proved himself as capable as the first unit power play quarterback and Nick Leddy was a solid option to captain the second unit. Especially with the top line on the ice, the new power play looked decent.

Since then, Detroit has regressed enormously. Now, the Red Wings success rate on the man advantage is just 14.4 percent, the second worst in the league (only better than the lowly Montreal Canadiens). It’s hard to shift the blame to just a single player, or even few – the unit just isn’t getting the looks it was before. They seem to struggle sustaining pressure and always seem to misfire when they finally pull the trigger.

Also, the results of the Wings last two games need to be analyzed while still considering recent events. COVID-19 ravaged through the locker room, taking out a good chunk of players. The team was forced to stop mid-season and wait the spread out. Even if the COVID didn’t affect the physical health of the players, stopping abruptly and isolating (not to mention playing a few shorthanded games) could very well have taken a mental toll on the players.

Essentially, fans should wait a bit longer to sound the alarm bells. The recent offensive output has been concerning, but the team has proven that they can rack up some goals. Give the power play some time to find its groove again and let the players recover from the break.

However, if Detroit’s last two performances are replicated frequently in the coming weeks, questions should certainly be raised about the offense.

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