Every game, every period, every shot, every goal, and every single point matters. This is no more wiggle room. The Detroit Red Wings (30-23-13) are caught between a rock and hard place.
The Wings currently occupy 9th place in the Eastern Conference standings and are facing a tough uphill battle to make the playoffs.
- In the 16 games they have remaining, 13 games come against teams currently holding a playoff spot.
- Their 25 regulation and overtime wins combined (or ROW as it’s called) is 5 games below the teams they are chasing (Montreal Canadians and Columbus Blue Jackets). ROW is the first tie-breaker after points.
- The injury report looks like a Christmas wish list. There are enough players to start up a new NHL expansion team with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Tomas Jurco anchoring the first line.
It’s rather obvious that the two points picked up Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers were crucial.
But, how did they do it? The young guns stepped up once again and timely goaltending.
The only way the Wings are going to keep their playoff streak alive is by using that same formula. But, relying on younger players and Jimmy Howard to carry the workload does put the team on thin ice.
Take a closer look at what happened against the Oilers if you’re not worried yet. Sure, Tomas Tatar (GWG shootout goal) and Riley Sheahan (with the other goal) were the stars of the night but why did the Wings end up settling the game in a shootout? 25 year old defenseman Brendan Smith made an uncalled for turnover in his own zone. That’s always a recipe for disaster and it lead to the easy game tying goal by Ryan Smyth. You get the good with the bad.
The same has been said about Howard.
Is Howard finally ready to turn up his game and prove to us why he is getting paid the big bucks? Maybe, but it was just last week I wrote that it was time to move on to Jonas Gustavsson. Friday night Howard made me eat my words. So it begs the question, which Howard will we see down the stretch? Your guess is as good as mine. Although, if history does repeat itself than I expect Howard to stay hot.
Lastly, I have to mention that the Wings genuinely struggled to beat the Oilers.
The Oilers! At (23-36-9) they are the 2nd worst team in the NHL.
But, I guess we will all just overlook that fact and hope they play better against the Blackhawks on Sunday.
While living on the edge isn’t fun, a late surge would set-up the Wings nicely for a postseason run.
The 2012 Los Angeles Kings set the precedent. Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.
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