A 2021 preseason survey of Detroit Red Wings fans revealed expectations for a better team overall, a finish not at the absolute bottom of the Central Division and a certain forward enjoying leading scorer status.
We’re six games into the 56-game season now. The Red Wings are 2-4-0. That’s good enough for 6th place in the Central Division -- view the division standings here.
Let’s take a look at the full results from the preseason survey given to “Dear Red Wings” newsletter subscribers -- a loyal group of Red Wings fans:
Do you think the Red Wings will be better this season than last?
An overwhelming 90% of survey participants said they expected the Red Wings to be better this season compared to the historically bad 2019-20 season. Through 71 games played in the season cut short by COVID, the Red Wings mustered a measly 17 wins for a .275 winning percentage, third worst in franchise history.
How many wins do you think the Red Wings will have by the end of the 56-game season?
As for the amount of wins the team will have this season, 52% of respondents think they’ll win at least 21 games. After watching those two dismal losses to Chicago this past weekend, I am thinking some more people might have the Red Wings in the 11-20 wins range.
There are 8 teams in the realigned Central Division. Where do you think the Red Wings finish within the division?
As mentioned, the Red Wings find themselves in 6th place after six games, and that’s right where 33% of survey respondents expected them to be.
In 2019-20, the Wings finished last in the Atlantic Division, last in the conference and last in the league. So, 6th place out of eight teams in the Central Division would be an improvement.
Who will be the Red Wings’ leading scorer this season?
I offered this question as a multiple choice based on who led the team in points the previous meeting and expected ice time this season. Survey says: 41.5% of respondents choose forward Anthony Mantha. Through six games, Mantha has 1 goal and 2 assists. He’s off to a slow start with a dismal 7.7 shooting percentage.
Bobby Ryan, meanwhile, has the most goals -- 4 through just five games played.
Mantha scored 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points in 43 games play this past season, a career best in terms of points per game. The belief is he stays healthy he could be a 30-goal scorer in this league. The 20th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft is now 26 years old and in his fifth full NHL season.
Anthony Mantha says the only game he came off the ice feeling like he played well so far this season was the OT win over Columbus. It's pretty clear the slow start has bothered him as much as anybody— Max Bultman (@m_bultman) January 25, 2021
Do you think the Red Wings need to name a team captain this season? They have not had one since Henrik Zetterberg retired in 2018.
Nearly 70% of respondents said yes, the Red Wings need a captain this season. Larkin was named captain a day before the Red Wings’ season opener. That seemed inevitable. No surprises here.
Yzerman has given us optimism
It’s not crazy to see Red Wings fans more optimistic about this squad. GM Steve Yzerman made a long list of moves in his first full offseason in the position. The moves included upgrades (or so we thought) to the defense, offense and goaltending. He’s built this team with very few long-term commitments as he tries to foster a young corps and develop prospects, all while gaining more assets through draft picks. We won’t be surprised to see him flipping players at the trade deadline (April 12) for even more draft picks.
But before then, if the Red Wings don’t return to that more competitive feeling we saw in the first four games of this season, I am sure the next question on everyone’s mind is whether there should be a coaching change.
As I’ve said -- and so many others smarter than I have said -- over and over again: It’s not exactly about winning every game for a rebuilding team like Detroit. It’s about being competitive and putting young players in better positions to learn and perform. That’s what 6th place is -- losing tight games but building toward a better future. Losing 6-2 to a depleted Chicago Blackhawks team that is expected to finish last in the league is not it.
This survey was put before our “Dear Red Wings” newsletter subscribers. Sign up here to be part of all the fun: