The Detroit Red Wings have lost five in a row; two on the road, and three at home. Though both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are doing well this season, the Red Wings also lost back-to-back games against the bottom-feeding Florida Panthers in that span. It’s easy to blame this losing streak on the numerous injuries that have plagued the red wings over the past few weeks (including Danny Dekeyser, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Stephen Weiss, Justin Abdelkader, and of course Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg), but the fact is, this has happened before. The Wings lost seven in a row in November, five of which came in the shootout or overtime, which begs the question: Why have the Detroit Red Wings fallen back into this familiar pattern?
The loss of the aforementioned key players certainly hasn’t helped, but, as I mentioned, even with most of those guys healthy, the team still struggled to win games, especially after regulation has ended (the Wings have only won one game this season that went over 60 minutes). Goaltending hasn’t been an issue despite the rough play from Jimmy Howard, as “backup” goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has posted solid numbers in key games for the Red Wings, and he has been the key player in several games already this season.
The Red Wings’ special teams have been solid as well, as they are in the top-ten on the PK and 12th on the power-play. In fact, as of this writing, the Wings sit 4th in the Atlantic Division and 6th in the Eastern Conference. Why, you ask, is this losing streak anything to be worried about?
Because the core is aging. This team, once considered among the elite of the NHL and perhaps even the most dominant franchise of all of sports, has consistently lost several games in a row this year while it’s players have failed to stay healthy. It’s been many years since the Red Wings have had to worry, really worry about making the playoffs, and as injuries and losses pileup, young, hungry Eastern Conference teams will begin nipping at the heels of the older, less physically inclined newcomers, the Detroit Red Wings.
Dekeyser, Helm, and Zetterberg are all set to return around December 28th. Their respective returns should make a difference in these losing streaks, but speculation at this point is simply speculation. Regardless, something’s gotta give in this organization; and Ken Holland knows it.