The Detroit Red Wings have started the 2011-2012 NHL season with a 3-0-0-0 record, posting a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators, a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche, and last night's 2-0 shutout over the Vancouver Canucks. Before I plan the parade route, let's be serious. Three wins is a good start to the season, especially since two of them were shutouts, but it does not mean Detroit is going to be an unstoppable juggernaut from start to finish.
It's tough for a die-hard, fanatical fan such as myself to admit this but there is a very noticeable problem with the Red Wings of this season. The power play for the Wings is 0 for 16 on the power play this season. As in 0% effective. Granted, there are five other teams who have yet to tickle the twine on the power play yet this season, but this article isn't about them. It's about being truthful about the Red Wings' start this season.
Another obvious statistic that is disturbing is the failure at the faceoff circle. Currently, Detroit is ranked 25th in the NHL with a 45.9% faceoff success rate. The obvious target for criticism would be young Cory Emmerton, who currently has a goal, an assist, and is a +2 in his three games as the fourth line center. Hard to blame the kid for being a loser at the dot when everywhere else he's performing beyond expectation. Darren Helm hasn't been too hot at the faceoff circle either.
I'd love to go off on a tangent about how it's too early to judge any team by its start. Even the Blue Jackets, the Jets, and the Rangers don't deserve any ire from their fans for not yet getting a win. As for Detroit, at this point in the season, on paper, two shutouts and three wins looks good. Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin look sharp. Jiri Hudler, last year's major disappointment, leads the team with three points. Jonathan Ericsson is a +4 with zero PIMs and Jakub Kindl is among league leaders in plus/minus with +5.
In the long run, I have no doubt that Detroit will be just fine. The power play will work itself out. Its likely that the faceoff issues will also work themselves out and our success rate will improve with every game Emmerton gets under his belt. However, the Wings' start is by no means a work of art. Don't hand them the Cup yet.