To be fair, on most nights the Detroit Red Wings don’t *look* like the worst team in the NHL. Numbers don’t lie, however, and they enter a big Thursday night of NHL hockey action with a record of 7-13-3 and 17 points. That puts them in a tie with the Western Conference Los Angeles Kings for the lowest point total in the NHL. They’ll try to reverse their poor form and end a three game losing streak as they head to Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets aren’t far removed from the Eastern Conference basement though after a Summer when they lost a ton of talent that wasn’t unexpected. If anything, they’ve been more competitive than anticipated and sit at 8-8-4 for 20 points. They’ve been nothing if not consistent both at home and on the road. At home, the Jackets are 5-5-1. On the road, they’re 3-3-3. They had lost 7 of 8 near the end of October/beginning of November but they’re coming off a pair of wins against tough opponents beating St. Louis 3-2 in OT last Friday and Montreal 5-2 on Tuesday.
Statistically speaking, the Red Wings are a disaster. They’re dead last in team offense scoring a paltry 2.35 goals per game. They’re also dead last in team defense allowing 3.70 goals per game against. This combination gives them the worst goals scored/conceded differential in the NHL at -1.35 goals per game. Only Los Angeles and New Jersey have a negative differential of greater than one. The Wings’ special teams haven’t been much better thought at least they’re not in last place in either power play or penalty kill. They’re #25 on the power play connecting on 15.1% of man advantage opportunities and #29-T on the penalty kill at 72.2%.
Columbus hasn’t fared much better. They’re in a three way tie for the #28 scoring offense in the NHL with Calgary and New Jersey putting up just 2.50 goals per game. The Jackets are a reasonable #20 in team defense allowing 3.20 goals per game though special teams have also been a disaster for Columbus. In fact, they’ve got a very similar special teams statistical profile as their opponents. Columbus is the #24 power play in the league ahead of Detroit at #25 by fractions. They do have a better penalty kill thought it has been far from great at #22 (77.6%).
Even though they might look similar statistically, every other metric indicates that Columbus is the better team. Detroit has been awful on the road winning only 3 of 12 away from home (3-9-3). They’ve been at their worst when playing opponents with losing records. Against foes under .500 they’re 2-9 -6 units this season. The Jackets have dominated head to head play in the series winning 5 of the last 6 and they should get the ‘W’ here.