Of Red Wings-related note from The Athletic this morning:
1. The Athletic’s Tyler Dellow penned a list of the 12 NHL lines that had the worst goal differential, and it’s not surprising to read that the Red Wings’ various combinations of fourth-line forwards struggled:
5. Detroit Red Wings, Line 4 (-20.4 goal difference). Key members: Luke Glendening, Martin Frk, Frans Nielsen, Darren Helm, Andreas Athanasiou, Justin Abdelkader, David Booth
It’s hard for a team to bury itself with a fourth line but Detroit managed to do it. Detroit’s -20.4 goal difference from the fourth line was nearly double the league’s next worst fourth line, Pittsburgh at -10.5. It got outshot by more than 10 shots an hour. Unsurprisingly, there are some percentages at play here – Detroit had an .881 save percentage with the fourth line on the ice and the shooting percentage was bad to boot – but they were just overwhelmed in terms of possession too.
The fourth line wasn’t just bad relative to other fourth lines; it was bad relative to the Red Wings as a whole. The league average fourth line was about 2.8 points of possession worse than the team was with that line on the bench. Detroit’s fourth line was 7.6 points worth of possession worse. The Red Wings were an average team relative to the league in terms of goals with the fourth line on the bench. This isn’t to say that Detroit’s particularly good, only that they do have a case to make that they could be a, say, slightly below average 5-on-5 team with something approaching credible results from their fourth line.
A curious thing about this group is that they all tended to do much better when not playing on the fourth line. To pick one crazy example, Justin Abdelkader got outscored 12-2 while playing on the fourth line with a 38.7 per cent Corsi%. That’s bad. In the top nine, the Wings outscored the opposition 32-30 with him on the ice with a 50.8 per cent Corsi%. There’s maybe something for the Red Wings to look into here, in terms of whether they can squeeze more out of their roster by organizing it differently or whether there’s one player who sinks everything. (If there is, he isn’t immediately obvious.)
Dellow continues (paywall)…
2. And The Athletic’s Mitch Brown wrote an article which compares defensemen Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard, with both players drawing significant interest from the Red Wings as they prepare to draft 6th overall (maybe? probably?):
One of the most fascinating debates going into this June’s NHL draft is Evan Bouchard vs. Noah Dobson.
The two defencemen have been compared all season and it’s justified. Both are possible top-10 picks. They both absolutely racked up the points, with Bouchard grabbing 25 goals and 87 points in 67 games and Dobson scoring 17 times and tallying 69 points.
Both players continued to improve throughout the year, despite their teams moving in opposite directions. London traded away their core, while Acadie-Bathurst added to it en route to winning the Memorial Cup.
So, to get a better understanding of the differences and similarities of the two, I tracked eight games of each player as part of my CHL Tracking Project. The project, which features 17 teams and over 300 players, includes zone exits, entries, neutral zone defence, and various offensive measures. The results are relatively limited with a small sample size, but it does provide the basis of an interesting discussion.
Brown continues (paywall)…