Red Wings Are Doing Well. But How Long Will It Last?


Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

My oh my this is the Detroit Red Wings we’re used to watching isn’t it? The Wings haven’t looked this good in years as they have in the past couple weeks. Scoring spread out from several lines, no focus on one individual player. Solid defending backed by decent goaltending, and shooting up in the standings. Winning seven of the last tengames, and regularly putting up five goals in a games that’d make Booker T happy (mostly because he’d get to say ‘five times’). The way things are going, Henrick Zetterberg and the Red Wings are looking closer to being a force to contend with in the post-season rather than barely getting in by the skin of their teeth as they have recently. Is this something that’s going to stick for the rest of the season? Or are the Wings just benefitting from some fortunate circumstances that won’t last?

First and foremost, the Wings have been good lately. Not just good as in getting by, but as of Friday Morning, one point back from the Montreal Canadians with a game in hand (how do you say ‘we’re coming for you, suckas!’ in French? Let me know in the comments). The next closest opponent in the Atlantic is Toronto, who is six points back with a game in hand, so Detroit has built itself a nice little cushion. Their +15 goal differential speaks volumes about how well they’ve played lately, and the fact they’re 4th in the league in goals per game shows this isn’t a product of a couple good weeks but the entire season (3.12, if you were curious. Only Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Tampa Bay are ahead of the Wings.) To go along with it, Detroit is 10th in goals against per game. Not President’s Trophy material by any means, but a lethal combination nonetheless. Yes indeed, Detroit is doing quite well this season.

The pessimist in mean looks at these numbers and immediately looks at who Detroit has been playing lately. Their recent four-game winning streak included victories over Ottawa, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Vancouver. Outside of Vancouver, not exactly playoff previews. Detroit has also had the opportunity to beat up on Winnipeg and Columbus lately as well. The schedule has been treating Detroit pretty well, especially considering 9 of the last 13 games have been at home as well.

Detroit also hasn’t had all that many of the infamous super-tough Western Conference teams to play against that we keep hearing so much about. Although the ones they have played against they’ve done really well, their only western loss coming against Anaheim with a somewhat controversial non-call in the final minutes. And it’s not like they’ve been playing Edmonton and Arizona all year, they had pretty convincing wins over both Los Angeles and Chicago, although the small sample size stops me from getting too excited about that.

The other thing that Detroit has really benefitted from is other team’s misfortunes. Montreal is starting to regress from their hot start and Detroit is on the verge of passing them in the standings. Additonally, the Boston Bruins have been without their top defenseman in Zdeno Chara and their 2nd-line-center David Krejci, so their loss has been Detroit’s gain. It’s not entirely out of the question to see Detroit finishing 2nd in the division at this point, though I think surpassing Tampa Bay is a little far-fetched. It also isn’t impossible to envision Boston getting healthy, and Montreal and Toronto pushing Detroit into a wildcard slot.

The next week or so will tell us a lot about what sort of team we’re dealing with. Detroit plays the Rangers Saturday, which should be tough but entirely winnable.  They’ll also face Toronto twice with a chance to get revenge against Florida coming up here soon (that’s the same Florida that’s loss to Columbus twice here lately) before taking on the Metropolitan Division-Leading New York Islanders (I know that doesn’t sound right but believe me, I double checked). Games against Carolina and Columbus will be sprinkled in as well. If Detroit can keep this up against these teams, this could be a real threat to the Eastern Conference. They also don’t really start hitting road games until after Christmas, so this is a huge opportunity for the Red Wings to increase that Atlantic Division cushion they’ve built heading into the holidays. For the time, consider me cautiously optimistic. The Red Wings could really be returning to form here, but there’s plenty of chances to play down to their opponents in the coming weeks.