Not to be missed in the thrill of the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night is Tomas Tatar’s hat trick. Tatar’s three goals were a welcome sign to a team that has been having scoring woes all season long.
Tomas Tatar’s Hat Trick Is Welcome Sign of Things To Come
Tatar previously scored a hat trick in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. Unfortunately, preseason stats don’t count for anything, making Saturday night’s magic the first of Tatar’s short four-year NHL career.
The final goal, in particular, was a real beauty. It was a show of skill that has always been present in the 5’10” winger. His struggles as of late have raised questions as to whether or not Tatar should still be a core piece of this Red Wings team.
Tatar hat trick pic.twitter.com/oTNHLfHDQc
— steph (@myregularface) December 18, 2016
Tough Season For Tatar So Far
When Tatar and Gustav Nyquist exploded onto the NHL stage in 2012-13, they were hailed as the next “Eurotwins” and expected to take the place of aging veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Tatar played in eighteen games that season and Nyquist played in twenty-two. They scored at a rate of 2.14 and 1.05 points-per-60 minutes respectively. This was third and twelfth best on the team. In addition to this, Tatar’s on-ice 5v5 CF% was 61.46 and Nyquist’s was 54.18. It may be a small sample size of games, but their performances were enough to get fans hyped up about the Red Wings’ future.
Since then, the players have put up just as impressive numbers. Tatar is scoring at a rate of 1.80 points-per-60 minutes. Nyquist has been putting up 2.03 respectively. This easily places them in the top five of active Red Wings players in this stat category. As for on-ice 5v5 CF%, Tatar’s is at 56.25 and Nyquist’s is at 53.07. Nyquist ranks seventh among active Red Wings in this category and Tatar is first.
The proof is in the numbers that these guys are good players. This season has been a real challenge for Tatar, though. Through 38 games played so far, he’s only scored four goals and nine points. He’s on pace to have the lowest scoring season of his career. His on-ice 5v5 CF% has also taken a serious hit, down to 48.53% (Nyquist is not any better at 47.45%). Tatar’s hat trick on Saturday should provide him with some much needed relief, as a lot of pressure is placed on his shoulders to lead this team’s struggling offense.
Red Wings Top Line Is Actually Good
Tatar’s slumping numbers this season are all despite him playing most consistently with Zetterberg and Anthony Mantha, the two players who are leading the team in on-ice 5v5 Corsi-For.
When compared with other lines around the league who have played more than 100 minutes as a unit, this Red Wings top line ranks eighth in on-ice 5v5 CF%. This is better than the top lines for the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, and Pittsburgh Penguins. That being said, the line ranks 50th in Goals For and 53rd in Shots For. This feeds into the glaringly obvious problem the Red Wings have this year: they don’t shoot the puck!
Positive Signs for Tatar
Looking at Tatar’s historical stats, it quickly becomes clear that he’s snakebitten this year. His 6.49 on-ice shooting percentaeg, 90.29 on-ice save percentage, and 96.78 PDO point to the guy just having bad luck. For comparison, his career averages are much higher in each of the categories: 8.57 shooting percentage, 92.7 save percentage, and 101.26 PDO. All this to say that Tatar’s season will improve and his hat trick against the Ducks could be the turning point.
Jeff Blashill should definitely continue to play him with Zetterberg and Mantha because that lines underlying numbers look great. It’s only a matter of time before Tatar really breaks out and makes an impact for this team.
Struggling Red Wings Benefit From Tatar’s Hat Trick
The Red Wings have been having a disastrous 2016-17 season. Before the game against the Ducks, they were 13-14-4 and lost their last four games, all of which were played at home. They rank 25th in the league in shot differential and goal differential and have the fourth worst 5v5 on-ice CF%.
Saturday’s game was a step in the right direction. They badly outshot the Ducks and finally found their scoring touch, getting additional goals from Dylan Larkin, Xavier Ouellet, and Frans Nielsen. Tatar’s hat trick was just the icing on the cake of what was one of the strongest performances the Red Wings have had all season.