Detroit News 2021-22 Red Wings final grades

Detroit News

Detroit — The season didn’t go as planned for the Red Wings.

This was a season the Wings were expected to inch closer to a playoff berth and take another step forward in the rebuild.

There were positives. Just not enough of them, not nearly enough, and ultimately it cost Jeff Blashill the head-coaching job the day after the regular season ended.

“We had gotten to a point where fundamentally with and without the puck, we had regressed,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “We’re at a point now I felt I’ve got to see (whether) bringing in a new coach, a new coaching staff, can make a difference to get us back on track and going in the right direction.”

The Wings finished 32-40-10, 74 points, good for 12th of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference — and 25th of 32 teams in the NHL.

The Wings ranked next to last defensively in the NHL (31st), allowing 3.78 goals per game. They had the worst penalty kill in the NHL (73.8%) and ranked 26th on the power play (16.3%).

It all contributed to a second-half collapse — one of the NHL’s toughest schedules during that span didn’t help — after a promising first half of the season.

“If you go back and look at our schedule and look at the teams we were going to play in February and March, and particularly on the road, we recognized our record was decent, we were pleased with our record the first half of the season, but having said that, our record wasn’t good against the top teams,” Yzerman said. “We’re starting to beat teams comparable to us in the standings, or in the rebuilding process. We were fairly competitive against them. We did have a tough time against the elite teams, even in the early part of the season.”

There were bright spots. Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi each had big offensive seasons, rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond were superb, and Jakub Vrana flashed goal-scoring ability after shoulder surgery.

But there wasn’t enough individual, or collective, excellence.

Here are the full-season individual grades, based on expectations for each player heading into this pandemic-ridden, anything-but-normal season.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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