Detroit Red Wings Playoff Streak: 5 Reasons That the Streak Is in Jeopardy
If the Detroit Red Wings make the playoffs this year, the Red Wings playoff streak would reach 22 seasons.
Despite their 5-1 win in St. Louis last night, the Red Wings need to play a more complete team game instead of relying on certain players to carry them to a victory.
If the team can't find a way to get back to their wining ways soon, their season may be done before it ever gets started.
Here are five reasons Detroit could end up playing golf instead of making the playoffs.
1. The Red Wings Cannot Beat the Bottom Teams in Their Conference
The Red Wings play in the "Wild, Wild West."
Anything can happen on any given night.
The Flames and the Blue Jackets currently hold the bottom two spots in the Western Conference, with six and seven points respectively. If the Red Wings cannot beat these two teams on a regular basis, it doesn't matter how they do against better teams as they will stand no chance to make the playoffs.
The Red Wings' 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues was a promising sign, but it was only due to the third and fourth lines chipping in during the game on a consistent basis.
Which leads me to my next point:
2. Heavy Reliance on the Top-Six Forwards Group for Point Production
If one were to look at the three stars from Friday night's game against the St. Louis Blues, one thing would be obvious.
The third and fourth lines were the reason that the Red Wings won last night.
With two points from Cory Emmerton, two assists from Drew Miller, and a point apiece for Dan Cleary, Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar and Jordin Tootoo, the Red Wings finally broke through offensively with players other than their top-six forward group.
Those eight points from the fourth line against the Blues were four times as many points as the Red Wings' third and fourth lines had contributed combined in the first nine games.
Whether this is the start of a new trend, one cannot be certain.
However, if it does not start a new trend, and the Red Wings third and fourth lines continue to struggle offensively, it will make it very hard to win enough games to make the playoffs this season.
3. Power Play Struggles
The secret's out—the Red Wings' power play is awful.
Sitting at 26th in the NHL, the Detroit power play is converting at just 12 percent of the time.
Three goals for every 25 man advantages—that will not be enough to get the job done.
Sure, the power play is better than it was after the first few games, but there is still a long way to go before one might call the Red Wings' power play units "good enough."
For how many power plays are being doled out this season (and for how many the Red Wings get on a normal basis) this power play needs to get better and be better in general for the Red Wings to have any shot of staying in games offensively.
The Red Wings' lack of offense from their third and fourth lines (up until the St. Louis game) combined with a terrible power play has brought the Red Wings' goal totals down in quite a few games this season.
4. Penalty Kill Problems
The Red Wings are 69.6 percent on the penalty kill, good for second to last in the NHL.
With team stats to as far back as the 1997-98 season on NHL.com, the Red Wings have never had a power play at the end of the season worse than 78.3 percent.
Safe to say, a penalty kill of below the 75-80 percent area isn't going to allow a team to win many games when the season is all said and done unless their five-on-five play and power play make up for the difference.
As the Red Wings' power play is also suffering, the Red Wings are in trouble on special teams.
5. Kyle Quincey Cannot Play Defense
Don't let last night's score fool anyone.
Despite putting up a plus-three rating, Kyle Quincey (shown without his stick above) leads a cast of defensive inconsistency on the Red Wings' blue line.
Although he now has a plus-six rating on the year, Quincey is one of the main problems with the Detroit penalty kill.
The first power play shot is usually stopped, leaving the defenseman closest to the net (usually Quincey) to clear the puck. Most of the time, this clearing attempt either doesn't get out of the zone or simply does not happen at all.
The play usually ends up in the back of the Red Wings' net.
Sure, Quincey has his bright spots, but usually Red Wings fans hold their breath when Quincey attempts to clear the puck out of the zone.
Quincey is also far less physical than he needs to be.
With 19 blocked shots in 10 games, Quincey is helping his goaltenders out there, but he has been credited with just five hits in those 10 games. Not very good for someone playing almost 20 minutes a night who is supposed to be physical in front of his own net.