Three games against divisional opponents, and the Detroit Red Wings claimed five out a possible six points. They also conceded three in the shootout loss to Boston and the overtime win against Toronto, but this early in the season, priority number one should be getting your own points. The Red Wings took care of business on that front.
Tuesday: Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens
After facing Boston and Anaheim, Detroit starts the week off with a matchup against the playoff Atlantic winner in the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens have done pretty well for themselves to start the season, being second in the league with 10 points on the young season. Tomas Plekanec has had himself quite the hot start, netting a 4-3-7 scoring line in their first six games. P.K. Subban has picked up where he left off, although now he's $9 million richer. Carey Price is having a tough start to the season, but he's gotten wins for his club, and Montreal isn't ready to scream for Dustin Tokarski (yet).
The Red Wings won twice and lost twice last season against the Habs. They also waited until January to have their first matchup against them, so it's nice we get to see Montreal within the first 10 games this season.
Thursday: Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings
TV: FSD, SN360, TVA2
Pittsburgh won the newly formed Metropolitan Division last regular season but lost out to the New York Rangers in the playoff division final.
Sidney Crosby is leaving no doubt who's going to win the Art Ross (if he stays healthy), as he has nine points in the first four games. New teammate Patric Hornqvist has taken over James Neal's scoring role, posting 4-4-8 numbers of his own; no word yet on if Hornqvist has also taken over Neal's cheapshot artist role. After questions about recovering from injury, Evgeni Malkin brings up the rear with two goals and five assists of his own. Even Marc-Andre Fleury has some respectable numbers with a .915 save percentage.
The Penguins rebounded nicely from a heartbreaking (and laugh-inducing) last-second loss to the Dallas Stars by handing the New York Islanders their first loss of the season. Detroit faces Pittsburgh on the second half of a back-to-back, with Pittsburgh making an appearance on Wednesday Night Rivalry against their in-state rival before taking us on.
Detroit got into the playoffs off a shootout loss to Pittsburgh toward the end of last season. They beat the Penguins only once out of three games, the 5-4 thriller that featured Daniel Alfredsson's overtime heroics. The Red Wings also played the Penguins twice this preseason, splitting the two games. You can thank Pittsburgh for Pavel Datsyuk still being out with an injury.
Saturday: Detroit Red Wings at Philadelphia Flyers
TV: FSD, SN360
Philadelphia is off to a tough start, going 1-2-2 and currently seventh out of eight teams in the Metropolitan. Unlike last season's tough start for both team and players, Claude Giroux is having a nice start to the season, tied with Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds for the team's scoring lead. Simmonds leads the team in goals with five.
The Flyers did what Pittsburgh couldn't and beat the Stars, although in a much wilder game than even the Stars-Penguins matchup referenced above. It was Philadelphia's first win of the season and third straight game getting at least a point. Philadelphia faces Chicago and Pittsburgh in a back-to-back before getting a couple days off to prepare for us.
The Red Wings did not play a close game against the Flyers last season. Detroit won the first matchup 5-2 and lost the next two 6-3 and 5-0. If Steve Mason's early numbers are any indication, Detroit has a good chance of putting up some significant numbers. Mason is sporting a solid(ly porous) .865 save percentage.
- We're approaching the one-month mark since Pavel Datsyuk suffered his separated shoulder injury. It looks like we're going to get the long-end of the 2-5 week diagnosis, unless some news breaks on this Monday morning.
- No updates as of this writing on the status of Johan Franzen. All indications are that his injuries aren't particularly serious if he had to be a game-time decision against Toronto on Saturday. Hopefully he returns against the Canadiens on Tuesday because the Red Wings will need his scoring, and he needs to maintain his fast start.
- Also no particular updates on the status of Jimmy Howard. Given that Howard was placed on 48-hour goalie injured reserve, it's almost a certainty he comes back against the Canadiens.
- If you remember from last week's look ahead, I complained about the Bruins and the Maple Leafs facing the Colorado Avalanche directly before facing off against the Red Wings. Not counting Toronto's second game against us this past weekend, the Red Wings face their third unique opponent who's coming off playing Patrick Roy's Bigfoot team. The Canadiens took on their former goaltender on Saturday; now they'll play Detroit next tomorrow.
- Gustav Nyquist shooting percentage watch: Four goals in the team's first four games, and the streak ended when Henrik Zetterberg scored the only goal in Saturday's overtime win against the Maple Leafs. He has four goals on 12 shots for a 33.3% shooting percentage. Trade the bum, he couldn't keep it at 50%.
- With Franzen likely to draw back in, Stephen Weiss becomes the odd man out again. Opinions seem mixed on how he performed on Saturday in his limited amount of time. I myself don't have any judgments because I joined Saturday's festivities late, but Weiss's coach and teammates seem to have his back.
- With no back-to-backs and with Datsyuk's eventual return complicating matters further, when do we see Weiss again? Is it just going to be during another spate of injures?
- Don't look now: Justin Abdelkader has 2-2-4 in the Red Wings' first five games.
- Detroit is now one of only two teams — the other being Columbus — to maintain a perfect penalty kill on the season. The Red Wings have successfully killed off all 17 times they've been shorthanded. They'll be tested this week: Pennsylvania sports the league's most potent power play, Philadelphia converting 31.8% of its chances and Pittsburgh, an absurd 47.1%.
- On the flip side of special teams, the Red Wings have scored twice in 21 opportunities for a 24th-best 9.5% success rate. Be thankful we're not Winnipeg, Buffalo, Minnesota, or the New York Rangers who all currently sport goose eggs for power play goals and percentage so far.
Another six points are on the line, this time only two of them against a division opponent. Every single one of them is still precious.