By now, everyone knows that the Detroit Red Wings were a bad team in 2019-20. The team finished last in the NHL with a 17-49-5 record. Their 39 points was 23 points less than the Ottawa Senators in 30th place and a whopping 61 points behind the President’s Trophy-winning Boston Bruins. Their .275 points percentage was historically bad, eighth-worst in the modern era and the very worst if expansions teams are removed.
But just how pervasive was Detroit’s failure this season? The Red Wings finished last in almost every meaningful statistic. The team was the worst at both scoring and preventing goals in 2019-20. Their meager 2.0 goals per game was more than half a goal behind the 30th-ranked Los Angeles Kings. They gave up 3.73 goals per game, nearly two more goals than they scored and .38 GAA behind the Ottawa Senators in 30th. In contrast, .38 more than the Senators’ goals against would be a sub-3.0 GAA and in the top half of the league. Detroit finished last in even strength, power play, and shorthanded goals against. The Red Wings also struggled on the penalty kill, finishing in last place with a 74.3% rating.
Taking an even deeper look, the team was a disaster at creating offense. Their 27.1 shots per game was last in the league, more than two shots behind the Buffalo Sabres in 30th. If the Sabres improved by the same amount, they would be among the top half of the league. Detroit also finished last in takeaways with just 4.33 per game.
The big question is: what wasn’t Detroit the worst at in 2019-20. The Red Wings were by no means successful in the following three key statistics, but they did not finish last:
The Red Wings should thank the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks that they can say their team wasn’t the very worst this year in a major category like power play. The difference is marginal, but Detroit’s 14.9% was .02 higher than the Ducks and .07 higher than the Sens. The Red Wings were also just behind the Chicago Blackhawks in 28th at 15.2%. Success rates start to rise significantly beyond those bottom four all the way to the Edmonton Oilers, who were more than twice as successful with the man advantage as Detroit, Anaheim, and Ottawa.
Unfortunately, when you combine the Red Wing’s low power play success rate with their league-high 13 shorthanded goals against, the team actually had a league-worst 8.8% net power play.
At the end of the day, Detroit had the worst goals against in the league, but they did their part not to leave their goalies out to dry entirely. The team finished 27th in shots against per game with 32.8. The Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks all finished below the Red Wings, with the Blackhawks bringing up the rear allowing more than two more shots per game. Detroit was actually closer to a top-ten mark in shots against per game that they were Chicago in last.
While bad teams and giveaways seem to go hand-in-hand, and often do, the Red Wings did not cough up the puck the most in the NHL. That honor belongs to the New York Islanders, with the New York Rangers coming in second-to-last. Detroit tied the Montreal Canadiens with 11.23 giveaways per game. This was only marginally better than the Rangers, but nearly two giveaways less than the Islanders’ ugly mark.
Yet, due to their measly 4.33 takeaways per game, Detroit still finished last net turnovers with -6.09 per game. They may not be the worst team in giveaways, but they were hardly winners in the turnover battle.
Finally, a noteworthy statistic that Detroit was not worst or among the worst at this season. The Red Wings’ 49.5% face-off rate was still below average by definition, but it was just short of a middling mark and good enough for 20th in the league. The team was only about 1% better than all but three of the teams below them, but the Red Wings will be happy not to be a part of that bottom group.
The 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings: “Historically bad, but okay at face-offs”.