My weekly evaluation of the Detroit Red Wings (29-23-13) highly hinged on the outcome tonight in Chicago because essentially the shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday canceled out the heartbreaking loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
The 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks puts the Red Wings in a deeper hole they will have to dig themselves out of in order to make the playoffs. My plus/minus report tries to shed some light on what the Wings did right and wrong this week that ultimately pushed them further down in the standings.
It’s the little things that make the difference; a hard hit, a poke check, or a strong tape to tape pass. It’s going to be the fundamentals and outworking the other teams that will save the Wings from not being able to play in May. With all the injuries they don’t have the talent to outscore their opponents anymore.
They have to grind, play disciplined hockey, and hope for low scoring games where their goaltending is good enough to pick up the points. In the three games the Wings played this week they did just that. Even though they fell apart late against the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks they played the type of game needed to have any chance to win.
– Power Play Woes
Before Gustav Nyquist scored on the man advantage in Chicago the Wings were scoreless on their last 13 power play opportunities. Half the battle was just trying to gain the offensive zone. It was rather noticeable how much Datsyuk and Zetterberg are truly missed.
Their skill to split defenders to get over the blue line and set up the offense is irreplaceable. Without them the Wings are forced to dump the puck in more and chase. This is by far the more difficult way to create quality scoring chances, especially when there is a limited amount of time to get things organized.
+/- Rating = Even
I might be a little bit too kind by giving the Wing an evening rating since they only got 2 out of 6 points available this week. But, in my defense, they fought and at least competed with the guys they could put out on the ice. That’s really all we can ask for as fans.
The Wings “B-team” won’t get any rest either as they have vigorous 4-game week ahead of them.
March 18: Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (36-25-8) 3rd Atlantic Division, 4th Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Jan. 1, 2014 at Detroit/Red Wings 2 – Maple Leafs 3 in a shootout
Prediction: This game is the last stop on a 6-game road trip for the Toronto Maple Leafs and they are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday. Because of those two reasons I like the Wings’ chances to steal a couple of points against their divisional rivals. Red Wings 2 – 1 Maple Leafs.
March 20: Vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit
Standings: (44-19-4) 1st Metropolitan Division, 2nd Eastern Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 14, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 1 – Penguins 4
Prediction: A potential first round playoff preview for the Wings if they can battle back to get the final wildcard spot in the East. The Pens and Sidney Crosby aren’t the 2nd best team in the conference without reason; they have the best power play and 2nd best penalty kill percentage in the NHL. Their special teams will be too much for the wounded Wings to handle. Red Wings 1 – Penguins 3.
March 22: @ Minnesota Wild
2:00PM EST on NHL Network (or FSD)
March 23: Vs. Minnesota Wild
7:30PM EST on NBC Sports
Standings: (35-22-10) 4th Central Division, 7th Western Conference
Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Mar. 20, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 2 – Wild 4
Prediction: The Wild are stingy on defense by only giving up an average of 2.3 goals per game (4th best in the NHL), but they also struggle to find the back of the net themselves with the same average of 2.3 goals per game for (27th in the NHL). Low scoring affairs are written all over this home-and-home series. As I mentioned above, the Wings excel in these types of grind it out games. Wild 2 – Red Wings 1 in OT and then Red Wings 1 – Wild 0.
A bad week (probably 2 points or fewer) and the Wings can start looking for their golf clubs and booking tee times for the spring.
The playoff streak is in serious jeopardy. The odds of the Red Wings keeping it alive are slim, but stranger things have happened in hockey so don’t throw the towel in on the Wings just yet.
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