Besides having the best defencemen in the league and some dynamic young forwards, there is one glaring reason as to why the Red Wings are the best NHL team.
They shoot the puck.
It might sound too simple but there’s no other possible explanation.
Heading into tonight’s schedule, the Red Wings average 34.6 shots on goal a night, ranking them first in the league. In comparison, Vancouver stands 25th in that same category with 26.2 shots average.
More shots means more opportunities to record a goal; it’s the basic tactic which players learn at a young age. Detroit is second behind Ottawa with 172 tallies so far this season and to add to that impressive stat, the Red Wings are first in lowest shots against with a 23.8 average.
The Red Wings shoot from anywhere, and sometimes the most obscure shots finds its way through the opposing goalie’s equipment. Leading the pack for them is Henrik Zetterberg, who has 232 shots, putting him second in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin. Vancouver just needs to watch some of Detroit’s games to understand their success.
How often do you hear a fan yell “shoot the puck!“? It’s like a broken record at GM Place.
The most obvious non-shooter for Vancouver would probably have to be Sami Salo. Even though he has considerably one of the hardest slappers in the league, he always hesitates to wind up. With 64 blasts on net so far, he only has one measly goal, and six assists. And how many times has he missed the net?
Markus Naslund is also a target for criticism, especially since he used to lead the league in that department. The star forward might find results if he only plays more selfish by sniping the puck, instead of passing it off.
Vancouver’s top shot getter is Daniel Sedin, who records a total of 144. Imagine how many more goals he would have on his stats sheet if he brought the puck in front of the net instead of cycling with his brother.
It’s like Gretzky’s old quote, “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.”
In order for the Canucks to start piling up the numbers offensively, they have to start piling up the numbers on the shots-for column. The constant passing and the need to make the “perfect” play won’t do the team any good if they can’t put the puck on the opposing net.
A slap shot from the point can magically pinball it’s way into the net, but it seems like Vancouver’s pointmen don’t understand that concept. The forwards need to test the goaltender as much as they can, whether from awkward angles or from anywhere in the offensive zone. It’s pretty frustrating to watch a team control the play in the opposing area and not manage a shot on goal, and that frustration is always re-occuring with the Vancouver team.
It’s a fundamental skill, and a simple solution. Detroit has managed to stick with their system and game plan of bombarding the other goaltender with pucks, and look where they sit in the standings. Alain Vigneault needs to instill that ideology into his squad.
It’s like a secret recipe for Detroit that no one else seems to figure into their strategy.
Think shot, think simple. It’s Red Wings’ hockey 101, and definitely a lesson this Vancouver team can learn.