Last year, the Detroit Red Wings took a step back offensively while adjusting to Derek Lalonde’s style of play. This year has been different, though.
Through 24 games, the Red Wings have scored 91 goals. Their 3.79 goals per game rate is third-best in the NHL.
Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Larkin, and Lucas Raymond lead the way in scoring with 13, 10, and 8 goals, respectively. But are they the team’s most dangerous shooters? I dove into the data to find out.
Measuring Shot Danger
Every unblocked shot has a chance to be a goal. That chance—or probability—is the basis for expected goals models. These models take into account shot location, pre-shot movement, shot type, shot speed, and other variables to determine the expected goal value for each unblocked shot. If you add up the values for all unblocked shots during a game, that’s the team’s expected goal total.
For example, a one-timer from the slot has a better chance of being a goal than a backhander from the point. Both have expected goal values, though, with the slot shot being much higher.
Higher expected goal values equal more dangerous shots. With this in mind, I examined the average unblocked shot attempt danger for each Red Wings player to determine which were the most effective five-on-five shooters.
Red Wings’ Most Dangerous Shooters
3. Michael Rasmussen
Even though he only has three goals, Michael Rasmussen is at least putting himself in the right areas to have an impact in the offensive zone. His 42 unblocked shot attempts are only a few less than Lucas Raymond (46) and, on average, are more dangerous.
It’s just been a puck luck issue with Rasmussen. Sure, decision-making could always improve, but he’s doing the right things to get on the score sheet. Goals will come – this analysis is evidence of that.
2. J.T. Compher
Heading into the season, I had concerns about J.T. Compher’s effectiveness – mostly how he would adapt to non-Mikko Rantanen linemates. I’m not concerned anymore. Compher has six goals and 19 points with the Red Wings.
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He’s also one of the team’s most elusive forwards. Compher has been able to find open space and fire off high-quality shot attempts. Through 24 games, 67 percent of his shots have come from the lower slot.
1. Robby Fabbri
Surprisingly—or maybe unsurprisingly at this point—Robby Fabbri has been Detroit’s most dangerous shooter so far this season. He doesn’t have many unblocked shot attempts—22 in 12 games—but they average out to be highly potent.
Fabbri’s shooting percentage is ample evidence of this. His 38.9 shooting percentage is in the 99th percentile of the league according to NHL EDGE. In addition, 72 percent of his shots on net come from the lower slot. If Fabbri continues to get these great looks, even more will hit the back of the net.
Red Wings’ Improved Shot Quality
Overall, the Red Wings rank 15th for average shot attempt danger. They’re in the same cohort as the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Boston Bruins.
Fabbri, Compher, and Rasmussen lead the way in average shot attempt danger. But what about everyone else? The chart below plots out each of the Red Wings relative to the volume of shot attempts they take on a per 60 basis.
As you can see, Joe Veleno and Andrew Copp aren’t far behind Rasmussen. In addition, DeBrincat and Daniel Sprong are more of volume shooters. And then, unsurprisingly, all of the defensemen are in the lower left corner given the typically long distance associated with their shot attempts.
Detroit’s 2022-23 squad had shot quality and shot quantity issues. This year’s team is different – they’re doing a much better job in the shot quality department.