Detroit Red Wings: Close Games Against Division Opponents Will Be Key This Season

DETROIT, MI - MARCH 20: Matt Moulson
DETROIT, MI - MARCH 20: Matt Moulson /

The Detroit Red Wings struggled against their Atlantic Division opponents in the 2016-17 season and a majority of their losses came down to the wire.

In 30 games against division opponents in the 2016-17 season, the Red Wings only won eight. The other 22 games ended in losses (overtime and shootout losses included). What’s interesting about those 22 losses was that 13 of them were decided by only one goal.

So, as the Red Wings head into the 2017-18 season this will be one thing to watch out for. But first, let’s take a closer look at the close losses against their division opponents last season.

No Luck Against Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres finished last in the Atlantic Division, however, they got the best of the Red Wings in three of their four meetings. Every single game in the two teams season series ended in a one-goal margin.

Only one point separated the two sides in the Atlantic Division standings at the end of the season and the Red Wings had to be kicking themselves for not taking more points against a club that struggled throughout the year.

This is a team the Red Wings will have to beat at least three times in the 2017-18 season if they hope to be competitive in the division.

Original Six Games

Five games against the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs came down to one-goal defeats. This is where the Red Wings will need to improve. Granted, we don’t expect them to win every game against these teams but if you change this stat to two or three one-goal losses then that can be a four or six point swing depending on the result.

The Boston Bruins also edged the Wings by one-goal twice during the course of the season.

Overtime Struggles

When we look at the season as a whole, the Red Wings lost 13 overtime games, which means the ability to win close games was simply not there. They were tied for the fourth most overtime losses in the National Hockey League.

This season the Wings will need that veteran leadership and young talent to coincide to create a team that can win games in close situations. Hopefully, the young players on the roster learned from those gut wrenching defeats at home and on the road.

There were moments of brilliance along the way including Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou’s overtime goals towards the end of the season. We will need to see more of that creativity and endurance late in games where players like the aforementioned can really step up and make some plays.

Next: Detroit Red Wings: All Overtime Goals From 2016-17 Season


One thing that should be mentioned is the Red Wings had the best record of any team in the NHL in shootouts, they were 9-0. However, they just couldn’t get it done in regulation and in the three-on-three situations. That’s what the issue is heading into the season. Let’s hope the Wings can reverse their fortunes in close games this season.