Wings don’t need to panic about power play
Is it already time for panic in Hockeytown just eight games into the season?
The Red Wings’ record is just fine.
They sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and third in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2-2 record and 10 points.
Wings assistant coach Tony Granato has helped make the penalty kill the best in the league, despite losing its perfect mark Saturday night in Philadelphia.
The Wings have allowed just one power-play goal in 26 opportunities. They remain perfect at home, killing off all 18 chances.
The injury bug has not crushed them yet.
Johan Franzen has a groin issue that landed him on the injured reserve list but Pavel Datsyuk has returned after missing the first five games with a separated shoulder.
So, what seems to be the problem?
The power play is the problem.
The Wings have just two man-advantage goals in 30 opportunities, a 6.7 percent rate. Both of those goals were scored by Gustav Nyquist.
Only the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild are worse, with the Sabres and Wild still looking for their first power-play goal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, the team the Wings beat in overtime last week, are first in the league with 10 power-play goals in 25 chances, a whopping 40 percent rate.
The Penguins will likely not keep that pace up but they did tie for first last year with the Washington Capitals with a 23.4 percent rate.
Last season the Wings finished 18th at 17.7 percent, so they weren’t exactly burning up the league in that category.
But they did get off to a good start, scoring six power-play goals in their first eight games, three of those coming in their fifth game against the Flyers.
In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, the Wings had five power-play goals in their first eight games.
They finished 15th in the league at 18.4 percent.
Going back to the 2011-12 season, the Wings scored six power-play goals in their first eight games. Once again, they got three in their fifth game.
That season they finished 22nd in the league at 16.1 percent.
You’d have to go back to the 2010-11 season to find a Wings power play that ranked in the top five.
They scored seven power-play goals in their first eight games.
That season they finished fifth at 22.3 percent.
Although the power play has gotten off to a slow start, the odds are that they’ll climb back to at least the middle of the pack.
"We got to attack the net," Wings coach Mike Babcock told Mlive.com. "But in order to attack the net you got to trust you’ll get it back, you got to trust you’ll win face-offs. So we just got to start attacking the net.
"We’re going to go through all the details of the power play — we’re going to get a fresh start. We got 74 games left, so let’s make sure it’s at the top of the league."
The last two games, the Wings’ first power-play unit has been Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Tomas Jurco, Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall.
The second unit has been Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, rookie Andrej Nestrasil, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser.
Babcock indicated he was considering changes but had not decided.
Justin Abdelkader already has three goals and two assists so maybe Babcock could try him in front of the net, at least until Franzen returns.
One sure way to help get the power play going is to take more shots.
The Penguins have had 25 power-play opportunities and have 43 shots.
The Wings have had 30 power-play opportunities and have just 35 shots.
The Arizona Coyotes have also had 30 power-play opportunities but have taken 53 shots and have scored eight goals. They’re currently third in the league at 26.7 percent.
"You’ve got to attack more," captain Henrik Zetterberg told Mlive.com. "We’re too careful, we’re afraid of losing the puck, so we’re not shooting. We have to shoot and (when) the goalie makes the save we have to retrieve the pucks."
The best thing to do is keep it simple, don’t look for the perfect shot, just take a shot and hope a teammate is there for the rebound.