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Diagnosing Alex Nedeljkovic’s 2022-23 Struggles

Alex Nedeljkovic Detroit Red Wings

Surely, the 2022-23 season hasn’t exactly started the way Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic envisioned. 

Through six games, the 26-year-old netminder is sporting a 4.33 GAA and a .873 SV% to go with his 2-3-1 record. In addition, his -6.56 goals-saved above average is fifth-worst in the NHL. 

Related: Red Wings’ Husso Has Earned the Starting Role (For Now)

So what’s wrong with Nedeljkovic? Why is he struggling while Ville Husso is thriving? Let’s dig in and find out.

Analyzing Nedeljkovic’s Goals Against

You can tell a lot about a goalie by the goals they allow. With this in mind, I rewatched the tape of all 26 goals Nedeljkovic has let in this season and categorized them by shot difficulty:

  • Bad Goal – The goalie should have stopped this, but didn’t. 
  • Medium Goal – Not the best goal to allow and could have been stopped in some instances.
  • Difficult Goal – If the goalie did one thing better or quicker, they would have stopped it, but we’re bordering on perfection here. 
  • No Chance Goal – The puck was going in regardless of how perfect the goalie played it. 

Through six games, Nedeljkovic has allowed eight bad goals, four medium goals, six difficult goals, and eight no chance goals. The amount of bad goals is concerning – and they’re costing the team. If you take them away, the Red Wings would likely have a couple more wins this season. 

Alex Nedeljkovic making a save for the Detroit Red Wings. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In addition, three common themes stuck out when reviewing the tape. 

First, rebound control has been an issue for Nedeljkovic. There have been a handful of times when he should have trapped the puck or deflected it safely into the corner, only to kick it out into the slot. This causes the defense to scramble and gives opponents a prime opportunity to bury the rebound, as was the case with this goal:

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Nedeljkovic should have trapped the initial shot from the point – he saw it all the way and it rebounded into a dangerous area. Instead, Chicago gained possession and quickly scored while Detroit’s defense fell apart. 

Second, Nedeljkovic has been slow to react on several occasions. It’s almost as if he’s tracking the shooter and not the puck itself. 

There have been multiple times when Nedeljkovic gave up goals on low-danger wristers from the top of the circles. He had clear sight lines and had plenty of time to react, but didn’t get in front of the puck quick enough, like with the goal below:

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