Detroit Red Wings weekly: Christmas came early

The Detroit Red Wings (17-12-9) are back to their winning ways (for now). A 3-2 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames and 5-4 shootout thriller over the Toronto Maple Leafs is just what the Wings wished for. Turns out that Christmas came early in Hockeytown.

I’ve made my lists and checked them twice. It’s the good and the bad from the week that was; a special Christmas installment of my plus/minus report.

The Pluses

+ Breaking the Curse(s)

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Tomas Jurco scores his 1st career goal against the Anaheim Ducks last Tuesday. Then later this week picked up another goal and an assist. (Photo Credit: Dave Reginek / Getty Images)

The ghost of Red Wings’ past has finally vanished. The 6-game losing streak… gone. The 11-game shootout losing streak… gone. The 5-game home losing streak… gone. It’s a Christmas miracle!

The Red Wings called in the Ghostbusters from Grand Rapids and they got the job done. Tomas Jurco has shown off his quick hands with two dazzling goals. Riley Sheahan has filled in for Stephen Weiss seamlessly. Jordan Tootoo is flying across the ice giving that energy boost the Wings desperately needed. Even the contributions of Patrick Eaves, Luke Glendening, and Brian Lashoff shouldn’t be forgotten.

These past two victories have shown how deep the Red Wings actually are. They fought and won without their captain Henrik Zetterberg, starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, productive forwards Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist, and countless others. That’s Detroit toughness and pride at its finest.

+ Puck Control

I’d venture to say the puck control in the offensive zone against the Toronto Maple Leafs was the best it’s been all season. The cycling of the puck and fore-checking to keeping the puck in the zone worked to perfection and was a key factor in all 4 goals scored in regulation against Toronto.

Pavel Datsyuk finally looked like Pavel Datsyuk. He was demanding the puck and looking to score before passing the puck off to his teammates. Earlier in his career Pavel wasn’t like that, but lately (especially this season) he has been more aggressive. And with Zetterberg injured, a scoring Datsyuk is far better than the passive Datsyuk.

+ Not Backing Down

The Wings weren’t going to let the “Grinch” steal their victories this week.

A 1-0 lead over Calgary was erased in less than 5 minutes. Then again, a 2-1 lead over the Flames evaporated in 4 minutes. In overtime they finally said enough is enough and Daniel Alfredsson ended the agony.

Against the Maples Leafs it was the same story. Toronto struck first and looked in total control of the game. Detroit stormed back with 3 unanswered tallies. That should have been game over. But, instead it provoked a 3-goal comeback by the Leafs. The Red Wings had poked the Grinch with their 39-and-a-half foot pole.

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Daniel Alfredsson scores the shootout winner to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo Credit: Abelimages / Getty Images)

But, as the Grinch packed up the tree to take it away, one little Red Wing came in and saved day. Tomas Tatar tied the game with a fantastic tip-in play, paving the way for Daniel Alfredsson to end the game on a breakaway.

The Minuses

- Remember the Past

The Wings actually had three games the past week. We can’t forget about the beating the Anaheim Ducks gave them 6 days ago. It should be used as a valuable reminder to the fans that this could be the outcome of the season if injuries continue to mount. The aftermath will be a team that can’t play as a solid unit.

The Ducks absolutely embarrassed the wounded Wings. That game wasn’t watchable after the first 10 minutes. It’s truly a wake-up call: The Wings have a long way to go before they are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

+/- Rating = +2

Two hard fought wins equals a +2 rating.

Keeping with the theme of 2, the Red Wings only have 2 games this week.

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Helm lead the way in 1st meeting this season between the Red Wings and Oilers. (Photo Credit: Jason Franson / AP Photo)

December 23: Vs. New York Islanders

7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Standings: (10-20-7) 8th Metropolitan Division, 15th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Nov. 29, 2013 at New York/Islanders 0 – Red Wings 5

Prediction: The Wings keep the momentum rolling and shutout the Islanders for the second time this season.  Red Wings 2 – Islanders 0

December 28: @ Florida Panthers

7:00PM EST on NHL Network (or FSD)

Standings: (14-18-5) 7th Atlantic Division, 14th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 10, 2013 at Florida/Panthers 3 – Red Wings 2 in a shootout

Prediction: After losing back-to-back games against the Panthers in early December, I think the Wings rebound here and continue their newly found winning streak. Red Wings 3 – Panthers 1

Looks like the Detroit Red Wings got on Santa’s nice list as they face-off against the Islanders and Panthers on this two-game Holiday week. It’s not out of the question that the Wings could enter the Winter Classic as the 3rd best team in the Atlantic Division and on a 5 game winning streak.

Never thought I would say that after the first few weeks in December.

Can the Red Wings seize this momentum and carry it through the New Year?

You can follow me on Twitter @AEisen13 and while you’re at it, follow @isportsweb.

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