The Detroit Red Wings coaching staff has finally done the inevitable: they split up Moritz Seider and Ben Chiarot. With this change comes a ripple effect amongst all the pairings. Chiarot was paired with Filip Hronek and Olli Maatta with Jordan Oesterle.
In their first two games together, Seider and Jake Walman had a positive Corsi For percentage (CF%), Seider went back to being the top power play defenceman, and two other defenders saw more ice time than Seider.
The First 2 Games
Over the past two games, on Jan. 4, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2022, the pairing of Walman & Seider has played 11:18 and 15:18 at even strength (EV). Both of the other pairings played more time on ice (TOI) than them in both games, as shown below:
|Pairing||EV TOI Dec. 31||EV TOI Jan. 4|
|Chiarot & Hronek||15:43||19:22|
|Maatta & Oesterle||13:48||17:16|
|Seider & Walman||11:18||15:18|
As you can see, in both games, Seider and Walman as an even-strength pairing saw the least amount of ice time together. While the other pairings saw more ice at five-on-five, Walman and Seider received some significant special teams TOI, particularly on the power play (PP).
|Player||Dec. 31 PP TOI||Dec. 31 PK TOI||Jan 4. PP TOI||Jan. 4 PK TOI|
For both of these games, Walman and Seider have the most PP TOI out of all the Red Wings defenders. By deploying this pairing in fewer even strength minutes and more PP time, the focus of this pairing is less on shutting down the opposition’s top lines and more about producing offense.
While the first two games of the new pairings have not resulted in more offense from Seider, the on-ice play-driving numbers have drastically improved. Their CF% and shots for percentage (SF%) are promising.
|Seider + Walman||SF%||SF||SA||CF%||CF||CA|
They have more shots for (SF) than shots against (SA) in their first two games. They also have more scoring chances for (CF) than chances against (CA). While these results are very skewed in one direction (which happens with small samples), it’s an encouraging start.
Filip Hronek & Ben Chiarot
With a decreased defensive workload for Seider comes an increased workload for Hronek and Chiarot. As shown in the first table above, Hronek and Chiarot have seen the most EV TOI of all the Red Wings defenders in the first two games of these new pairings.
Olli Maatta and Jordan Oesterle have been serviceable as a third pairing. They have been outscored, outshot, and out-chanced. However, with them getting less ice time overall, they get less time to develop chemistry and iron out the kinks in how they work together. Because of the small sample size, the numbers should normalize (more on that below).
Shuffling the Lines Has Brought Balance to Red Wings Defence
It’s been two weeks since this shift in the pairings has occurred. Some things have changed since the first two games. However, the pairings are starting to gel and players are getting accustomed to their partner’s tendencies. It’s still a small sample size for each pairing but there are some overall improvements that are promising to see. We’ll look at a before and after in a few metrics, including the percentage of high-danger scoring chances while each pairing is on the ice (HDCF%):
|Pairings Before Dec. 31||CF%||GF%||HDCF%|
|Chiarot & Seider||43.15||38.78||40.80|
|Maatta & Hronek||49.84||67.86||50.39|
|Walman & Oesterle||47.74||87.50||49.09|
From observing the table above we see some very skewed GF% for every pairing. It’s one extreme or another. The very low GF% for the top pairing is not ideal, as Chiarot and Seider are out on the ice a lot, and if they are giving up more goals than they are getting, that is something that should have been more aggressively addressed by the coaching staff before this point in the season.
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The most encouraging thing is the HDCF% across all pairings. If all pairings are around 50% (or better), it means that the team isn’t giving up more Grade-A scoring chances than they are taking themselves.
|Pairing After Dec. 31||CF%||GF%||HDCF%|
|Walman & Seider||54.37||50||45.83|
|Hronek & Chiarot||49.6||54.55||48.21|
|Maatta & Oesterle||46.19||28.57||42.31|
And now above we see a much more balanced distribution of metrics. The only legitimately concerning number is the GF% from the Maatta & Oesterle pairing. It’s less concerning when taken in the context of CF% and HDCF%. The CF% tells us that Maatta and Oesterle are only slightly being out-chanced. Similarly, the HDCF% tells us they are giving up only slightly more Grade-A scoring chances than their opponents. Two causes for the low GF% number could be either a) unlucky bounces when they are on the ice or b) as a pairing they have a weakness that every team they play against is exposing. If this is the only issue the Red Wings defenders are facing, that’s a big win.
Don’t Make Me Say “I Told You So”
It’s comforting to know that I (and several others) were clamoring for a change in the pairings and once it happened, it paid dividends. That kind of gratification doesn’t come around every day.
There is a better balance in the metrics between all three pairings. The top pairing is no longer giving up more scoring chances than they are taking. They will only get better as the players gain more familiarity with each other. Shuffling the pairings was the right move to unlock Seider.
Caleb has loved watching hockey for as long as he could eat a bowl of ice cream. Over decades this love grew into participating in Fantasy Hockey, first in redraft leagues and eventually Dynasty leagues.
At The Hockey Writers Caleb covers the Detroit Red Wings & Prospects. Additionally he is Junior Editor and Carolina Hurricanes contributor for Dobber Prospects. Caleb started a Substack newsletter that you can find here: https://dynastyprofessor.substack.com/