The Detroit Red Wings got back to their winning ways Thursday against the Dallas Stars in a 5-2 victory. After coming out flat against the lowly Florida Panthers, the Red Wings didn’t take the Stars for granted, despite Dallas having the worst-ranked defense in the NHL.
Instead, they ramped up the tempo, competed hard and made life difficult for Tyler Seguin and company, as the Red Wings closed the door at the end of the game holding the Stars to three shots in the third period.
Power Play Continues to Produce
The power play has been phenomenal for the Red Wings. Since November 16, the Red Wings are 13 of 42 (31 percent) with the man advantage. They were 1 of 3 last night against the Stars, but were mere seconds away from being 2 of 3, as Darren Helm’s second goal was scored just as Dallas’ penalty expired.
Oddly enough, the Red Wings only had one shot during their three power plays, which was Pavel Datsyuk’s goal. Normally, it’s hard to find success on the power play when a team is only getting one shot on goal for every three opportunities, but the Red Wings are making the most of their opportunities when they don’t get a lot of shots on net.
Kronwall said just throwing pucks at the net has helped with consistency on power play the most.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) December 5, 2014
Here’s Datsyuk’s power-play goal.
The big thing that has improved the most on their power play — in addition to throwing more puck son net — is puck movement. Back in the beginning of the season when they struggled to score on the power play, the Red Wings would slow things down and look for shooting and passing lanes on the power play.
It made it really easy for teams to defend because there was no sense of urgency, and the Red Wings don’t have a right-handed shot on the point to change the shooting and passing lanes.
As you can see in Datsyuk’s goal, the puck movement is fast and furious. It stays on one player’s stick for just a couple of seconds before it’s moved to somebody else. For a team like Dallas that has struggled with defense, quick puck movement is the key to getting them out of position and getting scoring opportunities.
Even in Helm’s goal below, the puck movement is quick after the Red Wings enter the zone, and Helm is the beneficiary of some bad defense on the part of the Stars penalty killers.
Penalty Kill Falters
While the power play continues to heat up, the penalty kill has faltered slightly. It’s not as bad as the power play was at the beginning of the season, but it’s little mistakes that are leading to goals and can easily be corrected.
For instance, against Dallas the Red Wings had all four guys below the hashmarks at one point near the end of Dallas’ power play. The Stars cycled the puck up to the point and got a shot on goal that was tipped past Jimmy Howard.
The Red Wings have allowed a power-play goal in five of their past six games, including two against the New Jersey Devils a week ago.
Both of those goals against were the result of the Devils cycling the puck well, and the Red Wings doing too much chasing. Chasing on the penalty kill generally leads to a goal against.
Both the power play (23.1 percent) and penalty kill (85.6) are ranked sixth in the NHL. It’s a vast improvement from the beginning of the season, but there still are minor things that can be corrected to make it even better.
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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.