DETROIT – Are you impressed with the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings?
The team is 4-4-2 through the first 10 games of the season. Rookies Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider (named the NHL’s October rookie of the month) have dazzled us with their sudden impact and promise for the future. Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin both returned stronger from injuries suffered during the last campaign. They are leading the offense and the overall aggressive tone of the group. Filip Zadina is getting more confidence as he works to establish himself as a sniper in this league. Those are just some of the positives.
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But the Red Wings clearly still have a lot of growing pains to get through. Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss in Montreal reminded us that goal scoring absolutely can come at a premium in this league, and the team with the most depth usually comes away with the two points when push comes to shove. The Wings were missing Bertuzzi and Larkin in this game, which is not something they can afford, especially since they’re already without Jakub Vrana. We’d love to see Zadina or Pius Suter step up in such contests to pop in some goals 5-on-5. Even strength goals will have to improve for this team as the power play woes continue, clocking in at a low 14.3% conversion rate through 10 games.
Higher expectation this season
Our expectations for the Red Wings this season were raised a bit higher than the previous two. General Manager Steve Yzerman, who is now in his 3rd season at the helm in Detroit, was outspoken about making the team more competitive while he works through a rebuild. He was busy during the offseason, moving pieces and making acquisitions to try to bolster the blueline and jumpstart the offense.
A preseason poll of Red Wings fans suggested most did expect the Red Wings to be more competitive, but still fall short of making the playoffs -- something they have not done since 2016. In the poll, 50% of respondents said they expected the Red Wings to win 26-35 games. Another 34% said 36-45 wins were possible. But only 20% said they expected a postseason appearance.
Those expectations appear to be right on target after 10 games. We’re seeing a team that is willing to battle for wins despite often being outmatched down the lineup. There have been some tough losses that would have been more demoralizing just a season ago. All we can ask for now is that the team works to be better, to get better, as the 82-game campaign continues.