Detroit Red Wings weekly: Falling out of the playoffs

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.

The Pluses

+ Grinding

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.

The Minuses

Detroit Red Wings

Nyquist’s power play goal makes him the new team leader in goals (17). Funny to think he started the season in Grand Rapids.

– 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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  • 547984

    Watching the NBC feed rubbed the loss in for me yesterday :(

    Look at Philly. They’re playing like a team that realizes the situation and are playing like it counts. We’re not, on the other hand…in any one game not more than half the team, it seems like, are giving their all. Yesterday was an improvement.

    Like you said, need to be able to win low-scoring games. Howard hasn’t been elite but he’s certainly not the reason to blame. If anything, it’s our bottom 6 defensemen. 1 error and the game could be over.

    6 points this week and we’re looking good. 4 points and we’re gonna have to hope. Anything short of that, I’m gonna go in a corner and cry. 😛

    Go Wings!!!!!

    • Alex Eisen

      I think they are at least trying to give it their all (I mean come on, it’s what they are paid to do) but at times they are quick to look defeated and give up. Can you blame them? They are missing half the team. I know making excuses doesn’t help, but the injuries this season have been ridiculous.

      Regardless, huge games this week. So yes… GO WINGS!