A little bit of a backstory here: today is the 15th anniversary of the first date I had with my wife. I guess "date" is a little misleading, because we actually met online in an AOL chatroom (dear Jesus I'm dating myself here) and today is the anniversary of us meeting in person for the very first time.
Needless to say we found each other to be someone we enjoyed spending time with, and 15 years later, we're still going strong. I knew I was in love when I wrote her a little love note (shut up it was romantic) that said that I loved her more than the Red Wings. Even if they were in the playoffs.
If that's not love I don't know what is.
My love for her hasn't diminished, and neither has my love of the Red Wings. They entered Thursday night in the mix with 12 other teams in the Western Conference for the last 5 playoff spots, facing an Oilers team who started strong but had faded recently. It was a game the Wings should win, and a strong defensive effort in front of more great goaltending by Jimmy Howard was more than enough to earn 2 very important points in a 3-0 victory.
It wasn't always pretty, but it was effective, and the Wings have another win. TO THE BULLETS
- If this is Red Wing hockey, then I'm kind of bored. At the same time, I'm happy they keep winning. Is this what being a Blues fan is? Maybe that's why I can barely form sentences and hate everything irrationally.
- Hands up if you thought that Jakub Kindl would make Ian White obsolete this year. Put your hands down, you liars. Tablet (I'm trying something with this nickname) has played 7 straight games and is looking better and better with each passing game. One thing I'm noticing is he's becoming much more assertive offensively, and now has kicked in 6 points in 17 games, good for a 30-point pace.
- I don't think anything was more fitting than Kindl falling to the ice after scoring his goal. I have never seen two professional hockey teams fall more than I have the Wings and Oilers tonight.
- I wish I had some #fancystats about this game, but I sincerely respect the shit out of the Oiler fans who know this stuff inside and out and don't want to look dumb. So here's a stat that might interest only me: the only minor penalty was taken less than a minute into the game, and the Red Wings generated exactly 1 shot as a result.
- Justin Abdelkader has a goal. TAKE THAT HATERS!!!!!!!
- Don't look now but the Wings have won 5 of the last 7 games, and in those 7 games they've only given up more than 1 goal in 2 of those outings. This was a team that was supposed to struggle defensively, but in the last 7 games they've given up a grand total of 8 goals. A big key is shots against; they've only given up 28 SA/G in the last 7, and that's with a total of 37 given up to Colorado.
- Speaking of tightening up, it's nice that Jimmy Howard appears to be in top form after a slow start to the season. 22 saves tonight (not all of them easy) in his second shutout of the season, and all of a sudden his .915 SV% and 2.50 GAA are looking pretty respectable. He's doing exactly what he needs to do by keeping the Wings in games while they get their offensive struggles figured out.
- The most impressive stat of this little streak the Wings are on is probably this: they have not allowed a goal in the first or second period since their win over the Canucks. That was nearly 2 weeks ago. This may be the most impressive streak any team is currently on in the NHL.
- I thought about doing a whole post on this, but I think I can sum up my thoughts in a bullet point: this may be the most important stretch the Wings play this season. The Wings went 3-1-1 against the Predators, Canucks, Blackhawks, Kings and Sharks. That's a great showing against some of the better teams (including the best team) in the conference. Then they played the Avalanche and Oilers, and will follow that with 2 games against the Blue Jackets and then a Western Canadian road trip with games against the Flames and Oilers. Every single one of those teams sits well below the Red Wings ("well" being a relative term in the cluster that is the West) in the playoff hunt and anything less than 6 points over the next 4 games is unacceptable. This is a chance for the Wings to generate some momentum and begin to solidify their grasp on one of the 5 remaining playoff spots (since the Central is a pipe dream) while continuing to develop their defensive game against inferior offensive teams. It's important for the Wings to have good efforts against the good teams, but it's absolutely critical for them to take advantage of the teams below them and win the games they're supposed to. The first step is in beating a Columbus team that has owned them so far this season.