Four games between now and next Monday. Four huge, colossal, titanic, massive, tremendously important games. Things looked good heading into the game against Dallas and then squandered leads have led to the loss of 4 points after they were within grasp.
8 points up for grab against four teams with winning records:
Tuesday, Phoenix, 7 PM
Detroit is chasing a Phoenix team that is showing there's no fluke behind their position in the Western Conference standings. Phoenix sits at a comfortable fifth spot in the West while Detroit is tied with Calgary for the last spot in the West. Phoenix's success starts in net with Ilya Bryzgalov and his 2.33 GAA and 26 wins--that's 89.6% of the wins. They don't have that much offense to go with their defense (only a +4 in goal differential) so they play a tight game defensively. Tight defensive teams are exactly what Detroit has struggled with this season and has rarely cracked them (San Jose) for a win.
Wednesday, at Minnesota, 8 PM
Minny, as of today, sits only two wins behind Detroit in the West. Last time against the Wild, the Wings squandered 3-1 lead and eventually went to a shootout. Drew Miller, who scored earlier in the game, was the hero by putting the puck past Niklas Backstrom in the 8th round. There's no reason Detroit shouldn't be able to get a lead again on this Wild team, it's keeping the lead that has been the problem.
Friday, Nashville, 7 PM
This has the potential to be a big game. In theory, Detroit could overtake Nashville with a win in this game and the ones earlier in the week and Nashville loses the games it has. Will that happen? In all likelihood, no. We're not that lucky. But the Wings could make considerable ground on the Predators with the games leading up to and including this one. With some of the players like Jason Williams, Niklas Kronwall, and Tomas Holmstrom possibly returning, the Wings could take the 2 points from Nashville.
Sunday, at Pittsburgh, 12:30 PM
This is the big one. Sure, it doesn't have the Western Conference implications that the others do but it has the effect of being a statement game. To the casual NHL fan, beating Nashville, Minnesota, or Phoenix doesn't have the same ring as beating Pittsburgh does. And they'd be right. Even though the Pens have struggled at times this year, they are still one of the best teams in the NHL and they're the defending Stanley Cup Champions (boo). Beating them could be huge for confidence in Detroit and a monstrous step forward to contending instead of hoping.
Also, don't forget that Hockeytown for Haiti is our game thread for Haiti relief and it is held on Sunday, the Penguins game. If you want to donate to the fund, please contact me by e-mail at email@example.com . All donations will go directly to the Red Cross after the fund has ended. We are currently hovering at around $500 and I don't see any reason why we can't get closer to $1000. If you, someone you know, or your organization would like to donate to the relief fund in the name of Winging It, contact us.