After getting a win to close out 2014, the Detroit Red Wings made us sad to start 2015 as they lost the first game of the year and first game of a six-game road trip in Vancouver on Saturday night. Something about this western Canadian road trip just never seems easy, and the Red Wings will hopefully take some points out of the next two games before flying back state-side.
Tuesday: Detroit Red Wings at Edmonton Oilers
Detroit plays its first game of the season against the Edmonton Oilers. I feel like I could just put a picture of a dumpster fire here and be done with it, but I would prefer to introduce you all (for those of you who haven't seen it yet) to the Twitter hashtag #HereCometheOilers.
All jokes aside, the Oilers did win their last game against the New York Islanders. I know this season's Islanders are good, but something about that last sentence just seems so fitting. For all its foibles and charming incompetence, Edmonton is still a professional hockey team, so playing a team in its same league means that they could theoretically win the game. The Red Wings hold the power to two points out of Edmonton.
Wednesday: Detroit Red Wings at Calgary Flames
TV: FSD+, SN
I feel like I could also just put a picture of a dumpster fire here and be done with it because, you know, it's the Calgary Flames. If there's one team in Alberta that isn't a dumpster fire, however, it's Calgary.
A team most expected to maybe make some improvements over last season but still not be very good, Calgary is throttling expectations, even as they've fallen out of a playoff spot in recent weeks. The Flames are basically the new test subject for #fancystats, as most indications show that they're due for a huge fall from grace.
Still, this is not a team that lacks for skill. Our old friend Jiri Hudler leads the team in scoring with 38 points in 39 games. (If you're nostalgic for some Happy lovin', read this fantastic post by Tyler from way back when.) Potential Norris winner Mark Giordano is a powerhouse from the blue line, posting 35 points in 40 games to go with a plus-17 — all caveats of the plus-minus statistic duly considered. And don't sleep on college rookies Johnny Gaudreau (13-18-31) out of Boston College and Josh Jooris (nine goals) out of Union.
Saturday: Detroit Red Wings at Washington Capitals
TV: FSD, SN
"We meet again, Ovechkin," I'm sure Pavel Datsyuk is going to say at some point. Detroit took the first game of this season series 4-2 in Washington, thanks to some Datsyukian magic. (And Justin Abdelkader, he did pretty well too.)
Alexander Ovechkin himself is doing ok, I guess. He's "only" on pace for about 40 goals this season, and Nicklas Backstrom leads the team in scoring with 39 points. Washington's won two straight, and they'll have played the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers before taking us on. The Capitals currently hold a divisional playoff spot, the third in the Metropolitan, and they're also in pretty good shape for the wild card if they fall out.
- Jakub Kindl either is eligible or will be eligible to return from short-term IR very soon, just based on days served. Whether the elbow is actually better hasn't been talked about by anyone with access to such information. When Kindl is set to return, Detroit will need to make room for him on the roster. Which means Xav--lalalalalllaalalalalalala I can't hear you.
- On the Jonas Gustavsson front, his "out two months" status is fast approaching the target date from the original timetable. He got into his first practice with the team before the new year, which is news to me. Without giving an official timetable, it looks like Monster is still week-to-week with his shoulder injury.
- Gustav Nyquist shooting percentage watch: 15 goals on 89 shots for a 16.9% shooting percentage.
- Uh oh, Tomas Tatar has the team lead in goals, and he took it away from Nyquist. Gus better start scoring to get ahead of Tatar's 16.
- Kyle Quincey has 35 PIM in 35 games. He's gone seven straight games without time in the sin bin. It feels like he's taking fewer penalties this season, but he had 88 PIM in 82 games last season, so I wonder what my perceptions are doing to me.
- I feel like we've come to expect this from Johan Franzen, but still: one goal in the last 19 games.