Were Red Wings Among Least Aggressive NHL Teams in 2022-23 Season?

Were Red Wings Among Least Aggressive NHL Teams in 2022-23 Season?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

It has been decades since a team nicknamed “Bullies” was a major force in the NHL. As speed and finesse have become more a part of the game, we’ve seen a decrease in nasty checks and all-out brawls. While the joke once was, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out,” now dropping the gloves is more likely to be a rare occurrence.

But a hockey player with a full mouth of his original teeth isn’t really a hockey player and a certain amount of toughness is still a part of the game: It’s not shuffleboard.

So BetMichigan, your home for Michigan sports betting apps reviews, measured the aggression of NHL teams to see where the Detroit Red Wings fell – and they fell a lot more than they caused their opponents to fall. The Red Wings were the sixth least aggressive team in the league.

How We Measured Aggressiveness

With the amount of fights and hits dropping in the NHL year-by-year, fans might be left to wonder how much a team’s grit and aggressiveness equates to being successful in the modern age of the NHL. BetMichigan used MoneyPuck.com to compile the amount of hits by each NHL team and HockeyFights.com to compile the number of fights by each NHL team in the 2022-23 regular season to find the most and least aggressive teams.

Customers using the Caesars Sportsbook Michigan Bonus Code can get +6000 odds on the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup in the 2023-24 season.

Detroit missed the playoffs in 2022-23, going 35-37-10, but their lack of aggressive play did not necessarily equate with losing. The Carolina Hurricanes (52-21-9) tied for first in our method of measuring aggression – or in Carolina’s case, a lack thereof.

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Least Aggressive NHL Teams in 2022-23

Rank NHL Team Hits Rank Fights Rank
1Carolina Hurricanes30th (1,351)32nd (5)
2Buffalo Sabres32nd (1,084)T-29th (7)
T3Los Angeles Kings25th (1,742)28th (11)
T3Dallas Stars 26th (1,648)27th (13)
5New Jersey Devils 29th (1,366)T-23rd (14)
6Detroit Red Wings19th (1,812)T-29th (7)
T7 Toronto Maple Leafs23rd (1,775)T-23rd (14)
T7Colorado Avalanche 27th (1,613)19th (17)
9Anaheim Ducks31st (1,284)11th (25)
T10 Edmonton Oilers16th (1,874)T-23rd (14)
T10St. Louis Blues18th (1,814)T-21st (16)
T10Florida Panthers 24th (1,755)15th (21)

Several Disciplined Teams Fared Well

The Canes had a great season, finishing second in the Eastern Conference and letting in only 213 goals, the second-best defense behind the Boston Bruins. The New Jersey Devils (52-22-8) tied for third on the least aggressive scale and they finished right behind Carolina.

Various Michigan sportsbooks list Carolina and New Jersey among the favorites to lift the Stanley Cup in the 2023-24 season.

In the West, the Dallas Stars (47-21-14) and Los Angeles Kings (47-25-10) finished tied for third on the chart and they finished fourth and fifth in their conference. Among the 12 teams (with ties), that comprised the Top 10, only the Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues failed to make the playoffs.

The Red Wings also finished in the Top 10 in power plays (teams were aggressive against them), but they scored on only 21.1% of those extra-man advantages (about mid-pack). Their lack of aggressiveness did allow them to play at full strength more often than most teams, as they compiled only 662 penalty minutes for the season. No individual Red Wing was among the top 25 players in terms of penalty minutes, but they were fourth in short-handed goals allowed, with 12.

That was part of the reasons that, after entering last season with +5000 odds at BetMGM Sportsbook Michigan to win the Stanley Cup, Detroit missed the postseason for the seventh consecutive year.

Only 7 Fighting Majors All Season

Detroit players were only called for seven fighting majors all season – 12 fewer than the previous year, largely because Givani Smith departed to Florida – and no Red Wing was involved in more than one. Jordan Osterle, Adam Erne, Tyler Bertuzzi, Jake Walman, Andrew Copp, Ben Chiarot and Michael Rasmussen each got dinged once.

But being less aggressive isn’t what caused the Red Wings to stumble this past season as the success of others shows: Giving up too many goals (279, fourth worst in the East) and scoring too few (240, also fourth worst in the East) were the major problems.

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Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist covering the Michigan sports betting market for BetMichigan.com. Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.

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