Mar 18, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center David Legwand (17) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit Red Wings defeated Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Playoff Hopes Possibly Revived: Red Wings 3, Maple Leafs 2

Just two days ago, many people were counting the Red Wings out of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. I was one of them. And while my hopes are still very low, the Wings do have a chance after beating new division rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in regulation.

 

The Goose became loose 12 minutes into the game, and after poking the puck out to center ice, #14 was off to the races. Gustav Nyquist skated down the ice and put a shot on James Reimer, who didn’t realize the puck had landed to his right after making the save. Reimer’s following body rotation to the right seemed to be in slow motion, as his stick scooted the puck into the net, giving the Wings the only goal of the period.

The Red Wings weren’t playing like they had just lost to the Blackhawks 4-1 the previous game. Their offense looked dangerous, and would eventually put up 31 shots in the game. The Wings looked to have control of the game for most of the period, but came out scoreless after a few power play chances, and they did surrender a few close calls to Toronto as well.

The Goose remained loose in the third period as well. A lazy Lupul pass through the neutral zone was snagged by Nyquist, who then skated unmolested to the right faceoff circle and rang a beautiful wrister off the post into the mesh, after it whizzed past Reimer’s stick side. Later in the period, a deep power play pass caught the Red Wings off guard and Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly was left all alone in front of Howard, who was able to cut the deficit to one. Nazem Kadri thought he tied the game a few minutes later during a Franzen tripping penalty, but the puck, upon further review, was kicked into the net. Alfredsson ripped a snapshot through Reiner’s five hole off of a pass from David Legwand on a 2-on-1. The 2-goal lead was shortlived, however, as James Van Riemsdyk crashed the party with a late 6-on-5 goal. Toronto had a couple more chances to send the game into overtime, but the Wings surrendered only one shot in the last 73 seconds, and won the game 3-2.

 

This game provided two huge points for the Red Wings. They are now 5 points behind Toronto for the 1st Wild Card spot, and only 1 point behind Columbus for the 2nd. They also have a few games at hand on Toronto. The playoff race in the east is still incredibly tight, but the Wings aren’t totally out of it as most of us had thought. If Detroit wins the games they need to win, and other teams lose the games they need to win, this team could squeeze in by a hair for a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance.

 

This is easier said than done, however.

 

The team needs to go approximately 9-5-1 for a playoff spot. They also have a brutal schedule, including games with Pittsburgh, Boston, Montreal, Columbus, and Toronto. However, Pavel Datsyuk, based on Ken Holland’s speculations on March 5th, should be reevaluated around the 26th for his injured knee. If the Red Wings went 2-1-1 until that time, and the magic man was ready to return, their chances of making the playoffs would increase tenfold.

 

I’m trying to still have faith in this team, as we all should. This season has been a roller-coaster and anything can happen in these last few weeks. I’m not sold that the Red Wings will make the playoffs, but I’m not totally counting them out just yet, either. Keep your fingers crossed, everyone.

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