Detroit Red Wings weekly: Final push to the playoffs

The Detroit Red Wings (37-27-14) snagged 4 points this week by defeating the best (Boston Bruins) and worst (Buffalo Sabres) teams in the Eastern Conference but had their 4-game winning streak snapped on Saturday in Montreal. This brings the Red Wings into the final week of the NHL regular season with 88 points with the magic number currently holding at 92 points.

Before we are able to look ahead at the final 4 games of the regular season, here is a very brief look back at the positives and negatives from the week that was in my plus/minus report.

The Pluses

Pavel Datsyuk

Pavel Datsyuk has looked a little sluggish in his return so far but did manage to score a rebound goal against the Canadians.

+ Flipping the Switch

The ability to make a comeback and not throw in the towel is what impressed me the most this week. The Wings fighting back from being down 2-1 in the 3rd period to best team in the conference was no problem. Then battling out of a 3-0 hole in Montreal was even more impressive despite the fact they couldn’t finish it off. It’s that type of resilience that makes a hockey team great.

You can have all the talented players in world but if they aren’t confident in their abilities as a team you’re not going to get very far.

The Minuses

– Inconsistency

The Wings wouldn’t have to continuously flip the switch and battle back in games if they could maintain a solid intensity from start. In other words, they have to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. In the 3 games this week they couldn’t manage a complete game once. They had slow starts against Boston and in Montreal and the near detrimental collapse against Buffalo.

This could lead to serious problems if not fixed come playoff time.

+/- Rating = Even

Those are my only two major observations that stood out to me this week.

It makes the plus/minus report rather condensed but the prediction section will make up for it with 4 crucial games to look forward to this week and the playoffs hanging in the balance.

April 8: @ Buffalo Sabres

7:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit

Standings: (21-47-9) 8th Atlantic Division, 16th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Apr. 4, 2014 at Detroit/Red Wings 3 – Sabres 2

Prediction: Which Red Wings’ team is going to show up? The team that scored 3 goals in the 1st period on Friday or the team that allowed the Sabres to fight back to within a goal in the 2nd and 3rd period? I’m going to say the Wings get off to another slow start but flip the switch again just in time to steal the 2 points in Buffalo. Sabres 1 – Red Wings 2.

April 9: Vs. @ Pittsburgh Penguins

8:00PM EST on NBC Sports

Standings: (49-24-5) 1st Metropolitan Division, 2nd Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Mar. 20, 2014 at Detroit/Red Wings 5 – Penguins 4 in OT

Prediction: This has 1st round playoff preview written all over it. I like the Wings chances to sweep the season series with Pens if Dan Bylsma decides to rest some of his key players. With all the injuries they have had this season it wouldn’t surprise me if they backed off for this game. However, if the Pens do come right at the Wings don’t expect Mike Babcock’s group to be overwhelmed. They have played Sidney Crosby and company well during the first two meetings of the season so this game shouldn’t be any different. Penguins 2 – Red Wings 4.

April 11: Vs. Carolina Hurricanes

7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Standings: (34-33-11) 7th Metropolitan Division, 13th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Nov. 21, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 4 – Hurricanes 3

Prediction: A long, long time ago the Wings beat the Hurricanes with the help of Gustav Nyquist coming up from the AHL. It’s amazing to see where Gus is now compared to back then. The same could be said about the Hurricanes. Their up and down season should have their playoff hopes finally dashed when they come to Joe on Friday. The Wings, on the other hand, could be celebrating another playoff berth. So, while it’s likely Carolina might not have anything to play for in this game, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the pull the upset with 2 timely goals and an empty netter. Red Wings 1 – Hurricanes 3.

April 13: @ St. Louis Blues

12:30PM EST on NBC

Standings: (52-19-7) 1st Central Division, 1st Western Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Jan. 20, 2014 at Detroit/Red Wings 1 – Blues 4

Prediction: There is only one thing I’m certain of when doing my predictions this week. If the Wings still need points coming into this game it will be season over. St. Louis would take a lot of pride in breaking the Wings playoff streak if it came down to this game. Nonetheless I’m predicting that Detroit will get the points they need before this clash so they will coast along to a scoreless boring finale at the Scottrade Center. Blues 1 – Red Wings 0 in a shootout.

That would be 5 points out of a possible 8 giving the Wings a grand total of 93 for the season and a for sure wildcard spot in the playoffs. Again, the magic number is 92 points and that could drop even lower if the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Washington Capitals lose a few games.

The push to the playoffs is in the home stretch! We can at least be thankful that the Red Wings don’t have to win their final 4 games, which was the case last season, in order to get in.

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  • 547984

    Couldn’t have said it better. Next three games are crucial, because going into St.Louis needing points is a nightmare. New Jersey has the softest of soft schedules so I wouldn’t count them out just yet. Washington and Toronto look done to me, though anything is possible.

    All the magical and frustrating moments of this year come down to this. Last year Z carried us on his back to propel us in (no wonder he’s injured, too much carrying :P), this year you couldn’t have asked more of the call-ups. I wonder how many games it will be before we see Pav like his real self. But regardless of if we make it (I have confidence in them to get that first WC!), you can sense the page starting to turn. 4 games = 12 periods. Let’s play all of them with heart. (especially you, Franzen)

    Any time now, I’m ready to sing……”Don’t stop…Believin” 😛

    • Alex Eisen

      You can’t stop me, I’m singing…”Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world… Took the midnight train going anywhere… Just a city boy, born and raised in south DETROIT…” :p

      The Flames beat the Devils tonight so the Wings’ magic number (points gain by the Wings or lost by the Devils) is down to 3 with 4 games remaining! So close, yet so far away… #LGRW