The Detroit Red Wings are at the halfway point of the 2023-24 NHL season and there was plenty to discuss about the first half.
Detroit started as the hottest team in the league to start the season and then cooled off.
From then to the signing of Patrick Kane, there were both positives and negatives to the first half.
The Detroit Red Wings have had positives and negatives this season
Goaltender Alex Lyon was the biggest positive for the Detroit Red Wings. Although he has played less than 20 games, he gave the team the biggest boost between the pipes.
After signing a 2-year/ $1.8 million deal, He was projected as the third goaltender on the depth chart after Ville Husso and newcomer James Reimer.
When Husso went down with an injury, the responsibility went to Reimer, who failed to hold down the position and struggled. This made Lyon the starter and he immediately playing at an all-star level.
This season, Lyon is 11-5-0-1 with a 2.47 goals-against-average, a .924 save percentage, and one shutout. He has a high-danger save percentage of .805 and has 10 games with a save percentage above .900.
Going back to last season with the Florida Panthers, he has proven he can win games and compete at a high level in pressure situations. He has played in Detroit behind an average defense but has been able to keep the Red Wings in the playoff hunt with his play.
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, signed in the off-season, agreed to a 1-year, $4.125 million deal with the Red Wings. At the time, some thought it was an overpayment but he has exceeded expectations on the blueline.
In 45 games, he has seven goals and 24 assists for 31 points. Those offensive totals are fourth on the team for scoring but lead all Red Wings' defensemen.
Gostisbehere has been excellent offensively, joining the rush and pushing the puck for a quick ttransition game. He has helped the power-play garner more chances than before and can be a real asset on the second power-play unit.
While his plus/ minus needs work, he has been a big part of the Detroit offense this season, which is top-five in the league.
The Detroit Red Wings offense opened the season with a bang, reminiscent of the offense explosion of the 1980s, also known as the Edmonton Oilers offense, scoring at will.
They did hit a rough patch late in 2023 where the offense was not as elite but they seem to have figured it out in the new year and are producing like before.
The Red Wings offense has scored 160 goals, which is fourth in the league, and is sixth with a goals-per-game average of 3.48 goals-per-game. The power play is operating at a 21.8% clip and averaging 30 shots per game.
The main contributors are captain Dylan Larkin, who has 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points in 41 games, while forward Alex DeBrincat leads the team with 17 goals at the halfway point.
Goaltender James Reimer signed with Detroit in the off-season and was expected to compete with Husso and possibly split starts in the net. While he started well with solid starts, he fell off the wagon shortly before the Husso injury.
He seemingly has lost the starter job to Lyon, who was not voted to the 2024 all-star game in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and has looked average even in the backup position.
Reimer has a 4-6-2 record with a 3.30 GAA and a .892 save percentage with one shutout. Over his last five games, he is 2-3 and has put his team in some bad situations by turning the puck over and overplaying the puck.
This has to be considered as the worst move by General Manager Steve Yzerman during the last off-season.
Development of Berggren and Edvinsson
Some criticism this season has been the lack of time with Detroit for winger Jonatan Berggren and defenseman Simon Edvinsson.
After injuries and players not living up to expectations, these two were expected to be called up and play a prominent role this season and be the future of the Red Wings.
However, they have played a combined 11 games with the Red Wings, even with the team struggling at times to find consistency and players out of the lineup.
Berggren has played extremely well when in the Detroit Lineup. This season, he has two goals and three assists for five points in nine games and is a +4. In his short NHL career, he has 17 goals and 16 games for 33 points in 76 games.
He could slot into the middle-six with any linemates and be successful. In three years with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL), he has 34 goals and 63 assists for 97 points in 104 games.
Edvinsson is considered to be the future of the Red Wings defense. While he struggled at first, he has developed into a solid NHL prospect and has shown he can also play in the Detroit lineup. He has the size to go along with smooth skating and a good defensive game to be a real star in the coming years.
This season, Edvinsson has one assist in two games with the Red Wings and has two goals and one assist for three points in 11 games in his career. In two years with the Griffins, he has 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points in 86 AHL games.
The Red Wings' defensemen have some holes that could be filled by Edvinsson as he has nothing left to prove at the AHL level. So the question is, why have Berggren and Edvinsson not part of the full-time lineup in Detroit?
After a hot start to the season, Detroit had a stretch where they played .500 hockey then they would start winning again.
The team also showed that the offense would click and not the defense and goaltending. On another night, it would be the goaltending and defense shining and the offense could not be found.
While most teams go through this, Detroit does not yet have the roster to overcome deficits game after game, nor do they have the roster to shut down the opponents game after game.
They need to get back to playing a complete 60-minute game to overcome the more potent teams above them. Detroit, at points this season, has been too inconsistent to put together a lengthy win streak together.
The team is deeper and has more scoring depth but is not an elite team. The second half of the season will determine if they secure a playoff or wildcard spot so consistency will have to be the main goal.