OctoPulse podcast: Yzerman on increase of NHL comebacks, John Shannon interview

Detroit News

Kulfan also comments on Steve Yzerman’s interview in the first intermission of the TNT broadcast on Wednesday. The Red Wings’ GM explained the increase in NHL rallies, including the Wings’ comeback from a 4-1 deficit against the Sabres in a 5-4 shootout loss at Little Caesars Arena.

The percentage of NHL games that have comeback wins is at 46 percent (146 of 317 games played), the highest at this stage of the season in league history.

“I wouldn’t say I have a scientific answer,” Yzerman said on the TNT broadcast on Wednesday. “But I think our league in general is in a real transition. We’ve got a lot of teams playing a lot of puck possession, a lot of motion. You watch Toronto. We played them the other night. They might be one of the best teams at it. In the offensive zone, they’re very active. Their D are very involved in the offense.

“In the bigger end zones, teams are having troubles defending, figuring out a way of defending. When we played, it was pretty simple, three-on-three down low and the wingers covered the points. Now with these D so active and so much more room, we have a lot of switches and teams defend with overloads in the corners which creates confusion when the offensive team breaks the puck out of the corner.

“The game is in transition. The offensive side of coaching has overtaken the defensive side and now teams and coaches are going to have to adjust and come up with better defensive techniques through systems to defend a little bit. And now with 32 teams, there are tons of goaltenders and we’re all looking to strengthen goaltending whether it’s through the draft or free agency. It’s a tough time to defend and a tough time to be in goal the way the game is played.”

More:Dylan Larkin’s defensive commitment sparking Red Wings’ surge

Kulfan agreed with Yzerman about the lack of depth in goaltending in the NHL and the increase in skillful players who are scoring at a record pace and sparking comebacks from multiple deficits.

“A couple of points there,” Kulfan said on the podcast. “Watching the game every night, there’s a lack of quality goaltending around the league. There are 32 teams and there are some good ones obviously but they are few and far between. That position seems to be stretched out, particularly this season. Most teams just don’t have reliable, consistent goaltending.

“And then secondly, I asked Derek Lalonde about this earlier this week about this increase in scoring in the league. He made a good point. The amount of offensive skill and talent coming into the league these days. They are able to beat anyone one-on-one. No lead is safe. Offense is booming. They’re just flying out there. It’s up to the defensive-minded coaches to figure this out and put a curb to it a little bit.”

Kulfan also discussed the Dylan Larkin contract negotiations and the impact of Dallas center Roope Hintz signing an eight-year contract worth $67.6 million dollars, an average of $8.45M per season.

Hintz and Larkin, both age 26, have similar roles and stats early in their careers. The 6-3, 215-pound Hintz has 24 points in 22 games on the top line with Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski. The 6-1, 198-pound Larkin has 25 points in 22 games on the first line with wingers like Dominik Kubalik, David Perron and Lucas Raymond.

In 2016, Yzerman waited 48 hours before free agency began before signing Tampa Bay center Steve Stamkos to an eight-year contract. Yzerman held firm on an offer of $8.5 million over eight years even though teams like the Maple Leafs and Sabres were reportedly offering more than $10 million per season.

“Some of these contracts popping up around the league are probably making it difficult,” Kulfan said. “Some people are probably surprised this wasn’t worked out during the summer. There’s probably a number that Steve Yzerman wants to stick at and they’re not approaching that number. Nine million would seem to be a minimum seeing what Matt Barzal got (eight-year extension for $73.2 million with an average salary of $9.15M) and a couple of other young players around the league.

“The negotiations, or lack thereof, don’t seem to be affecting him (Larkin) mentally. He’s playing strong hockey at both ends of the rink. I wouldn’t be shocked if this went right up to the beginning of free agency. It seems like a game of chicken. Anything less than nine million would feel like a home-town discount. It’s taken a little longer than anyone expected and become a little trickier to negotiate.”

Here are other highlights from episode 80 of The Detroit News’ podcast OctoPulse, taking the pulse of the Red Wings’ rebuild now in Year 4 under Yzerman’s guidance.

:45: Red Wings at the quarter point of the season

2:50: Yzerman’s comments on TNT broadcast last night

8:30: Larkin’s contract negotiations

11:00: John Shannon interview

24:30: Andrew Copp on the team’s depth on defense

28:30: Jonatan Berggren on living his dream in the NHL

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