Before this past Friday, the Detroit Red Wings hadn’t scored more than two goals in a game since October 17th against the red-hot Colorado Avalanche. As of this writing, the Wings are averaging 2.5 goals per game, which is good for 18th best in the league; however, after a four goal win over Calgary on Friday followed by a five goal win over Edmonton on Saturday, the question has to be asked: Have the Detroit Red Wings solved their offensive struggles?
It’s a questioned that, frankly, is too complex to answer with a simple yes or no. Lets take a look at some of the positives and negatives that can be taken with the offense thus far.
After having potency on both ends of the ice for the past two decades, the biggest question on everyone’s mind after Nick Lidstrom announced his retirement in the summer of 2012 was this: who’s going to step up on defense?
Offense was the last thing on people’s mind; how could an offense that had been so dangerous for the past few decades suddenly fall off? How could Zetterberg and Datsyuk and Franzen and Filpula let the Wings finish with anything less than a top-ten finish in goals per game? The defense was going to be a problem.
And it was. But it got better. The offense didn’t.
After finishing in the top half of the league for the six seasons prior to 2013, the Wings fell to a very disappointing 19th best (2.54 goals per game) in the league. That trend has seemingly continued into the 2013-2014 season, as they are right about that mark this year as well.
The signings of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss were supposed to solve those offensive issues. Both players are natural goal scorers, yet have only three (Alfredsson) and two (Weiss) respectively. Alfredsson has made up for his lack of goal scoring with a team-leading ten assists, but he’s not being paid to assist. He’s being paid to score, and he needs to start doing it. The same goes for Weiss, who’s two goals also happen to be his only two points, and he could very well see himself on the trade block in the near future should he not start producing.
It’s unfair to put all the blame on Alfredsson and Weiss, however. Johan Franzen, another goal scorer, has only two goals in 13 games played. Franzen has always been a streaky shooter as is, but the Wings desperately need him to return to his 30-goal form if they hope to contend with the likes of Eastern Conference superpowers like Boston and Pittsburgh.
There’s a lot to like about this offense though. Tomas Tatar (whom almost didn’t make the cut this year) has scored four points in only seven games, and is currently riding a three game point streak. Joakim Andersson has six points (three goals, three assists) in his first full season as a Red Wing, and has seemingly found his legs on the third line. Both are going to be very good NHL players, and if their scoring keeps up, they’ll be seeing more ice time very soon.
Of course, I can’t forget Darren Helm, who returned at Edmonton on Saturday and scored his first goal in almost two years. When he gets back to form…look out.
Helm’s breakaway goal was the first of many in Edmonton. (Photo Credit: Jason Franson / AP Photo)