Focusing on the defense after five games:
I focused on issues I saw with Niklas Kronwall and Ruslan Salei in my last post. Things have not changed much in the past couple of games. These two still are not showing the consistency needed. Sure, Kronwall has strength on the power play and is jumping into offensive situations more, but until he starts taking responsibility through the neutral zone and back, I am afraid the jury is out on him yet. But instead of breaking the defense down by player, let's take a more macro look at the situation.
The Red Wings are quite average in their own zone right now. They have 12 goals against and are +2 in overall goal differential. If not for Jimmy Howard's brilliance for making the big saves, the Wings could easily be below .500.
Last season the Wings started to develop two terrifying habits: Turnovers in the neutral and defensive zones, and poor breakouts which resulted in turnovers - odd-man rushes or opponents behind the defense. Apparently this still exists. Thursday's defensive meltdown in Dallas proved the bad habits are intensifying. Three of the Stars' goals were due to turnovers. Moreover, Phoenix's goal Saturday was the result of failure to exit the zone after a Howard save. I blame the all five guys on the ice for goals of this nature. Everyone needs to start swarming the rebounds and keeping the puck to the perimeter.
Power plays are for scoring goals:
Poor power play production is definitely something this team isn't used to. In 2008-2009 the Wings were atop the league with a 25.5% conversion rate on the PP. They dropped last season to ninth overall with a 19.2% conversion rate. So far this season, the trend continues: The Wings currently sit at fifteenth with a 16.7% conversation rate after five games. They have four goals in 24 opportunities. Kronwall's OT winner on Saturday was on the PP, but it sure took a while and numerous opportunities.
The Wings PP is currently set up in the umbrella or in a box with a man in front. They attempt to get shots after moving the puck around the perimeter. Often, the unit tries for a couple patented plays: Fake shot off the end boards or a fake shot into a pass to the winger who deflects it in the slot. However, most Detroit PPs showcase the unit's indecision. I would like to see a more direct, clear approach. Simplify it. Get it done.
Unfortunately, poor decisions in the neutral zone have hindered many PP opportunities up to this point. The team finally started to show some life against Phoenix. Getting the puck in the zone is mission one.
It is too early to tell just how deep this offense is. So far, I have only seen hints of dominance. But, a couple players are not living up to expectations.
I would like to the defense and offense mesh better in the defensive and neutral zones. They don't seem to be on the same page at times. It's like a wide receiver running the wrong route sometimes.