The Detroit Red Wings (7-22-3), the worst team in the NHL, saw their losing streak extend to 12 games when they lost 5-1 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The two teams play again on Thursday in Detroit, with the Red Wings desperately trying to avoid a 13-game losing streak.
The scoring drought is severe in Detroit. The Red Wings scored only nine goals over their last eight games. During that span, opposing teams outscored the Wings 38-9.
“When things go bad, they are really bad right now,” summed up Detroit center Dylan Larkin. “It’s not acceptable. We have to find an answer, we have to do it internally as a group, and we have to go out and execute. That’s what it comes down to right now.”
The Red Wings are the lowest scoring team in the NHL, averaging 2.09 goals per game. They score a half-goal less than the other offensively-challenged teams, such as the New Jersey Devils (2.43), Los Angeles Kings (2.53), and Dallas Stars (2.59).
Lowest Scoring NHL Teams
Detroit Red Wings 2.09 goals per game
New Jersey Devils 2.43
Los Angeles Kings 2.53
Dallas Stars 2.59
Arizona Coyotes 2.61
Anaheim Ducks 2.61
Anthony Mantha fought off lower-body injuries all season, but he still leads the Red Wings with 12 goals. Meanwhile, Tyler Bertuzzi stepped up in the scoring department with 10 goals and 15 assists. They’re the top two scorers in Detroit, and the only players with double-digit goals.
Even the Red Wings young center, Dylan Larkin, is mired in a slump with only eight goals and 12 assists this season.
From Bad to Worse
Steve Yzerman’s Red Wings started off the season with a 3-1 record, they’ve gone 4-21-3 since then. Yzerman needs a goalie and a reliable scorer. The poor goaltending sunk the Red Wings, but there’s plenty of blame to go around with a porous defense, atrocious penalty kill, and the lack of scoring.
Jonathan Bernier (5-9-2) allows 3.41 goals per game, while Jimmy Howard (2-11-1) struggles with a 3.94 goals against average. Both goalies save only 88.8 percent of shots.
The Red Wings recently called up Eric Comrie to help stop the bleeding.
“He’s got all the skill in the world, now he just needs to see how to use it,” said Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who is tied for wins with 15.
The power play unit is the fifth-worst in the NHL, scoring at a rate of only 14.9 percent. As expected, the Red Wings assembled the worst penalty killing unit in the league at 72.5 percent. The top teams in the NHL kill nearly 88 percent of their penalties.
Sometimes, hockey comes down to simple fundamentals, which Detroit lacks when it comes to their penalty killing. When you limit your opponents’ scoring chances, you put yourself into a better position to win. Conversely, when you take dumb penalties and gift the opposition free goals, you’re going to consistently end up on the losing end.
“We have to do a better job at getting stops,” said Tyler Bertuzzi.
The Red Wings are one of two teams of the NHL that have yet to win 12 games, let alone breach double-digit wins. The New Jersey Devils (9-16-5) are grateful for the Red Wings, because it takes the heat off them for being the worst team in hockey.
On Deck: Jets, Habs, Kings, Blue Jackets
Over their next four games, the Red Wings host three opponents in Detroit, including a rematch against the Jets (19-10-2). The Jets, with the third-best record in the West, find themselves on the cusp of becoming fifth team in the NHL to reach the 20-win milestone.
The Red Wings zip up to Montreal over the weekend for a quick game against the Canadiens (15-11-6). Then they return home to host two bad teams, the LA Kings (12-18-2) and Columbus Blue Jackets (12-14-4).
Detroit hockey fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the worst team from the West, the last-place Kings, are on the horizon. In the meantime, the Red Wings provided bettors with excellent fade material over the last several weeks.