Remember those 3 weeks in November when the Red Wings were winning consistently and seemed to be ahead of schedule? Well, looks like that was a mirage for the team. Things are now ugly in Hockeytown, and with 31 games left in the season, you’re probably asking yourself why you should bother watching this team? Well here’s why....
1. Dylan Larkin
Elite. The Future. The Franchise. The Next Captain. You name it, Dylan Larkin has proven he is just that this season. He has 48 points in 51 games and has shown game in, game out, he is the best player on the Red Wings and heading towards a path to become one of the league’s best player’s. He’s only 22, which means he is still developing, and watching that development the rest of the year is something that should keep Wings fans interested.
2. The Rest of the Youth
The reason I separated Larkin and every other young player is because, well, they’re in two separate categories. Larkin is elite, but the rest have only shown briefs signs of getting there. Athanasiou has a chance at 30 goals this season, Tyler Bertuzzi has already set a career high in points, we have seen bright spots on the blue line from both Cholowski and Hronek, and Mantha started heating up right before the break. Wings fans should keep an eye on the rest of youth in hopes they continue to progress to make for an exciting 2019-2020 season.
3. Trade Deadline
Despite Ken Holland’s recent comments ($$) about re-signing the team’s big UFA’s (which they absolutely should not do for obvious salary cap and rebuild reasons), we are less than a month away from the NHL trade deadline. Gustav Nyquist is well on his way to a new career high in points and assists, Jimmy Howard is fresh off his 3rd All-Star appearance thanks to a great start to the season despite the stats, and even Nick Jensen’s name has been thrown around, which could help bring Hronek up for good. Regardless of what Holland and company actually do (please trade them all), the next month will be interesting for these three.
4. Lose for Hughes
Ah yes, all in favor say aye? It’s time to accept it that tanking is the way to go. A friend of mine suggested we should lose every game 5-4 in regulation with AA, Bert, Cholowski, Larkin and Mantha being the ones contributing on the score sheet. Now obviously we aren’t going to see that result every game, but that’s kind of the right idea. I want the youngsters getting valuable and productive playing time to help their development, but also want to tank. Not to mention the Wings are currently the 6th worst team in the NHL (but did hold the last spot for a day last week), and sit 2 points away from being the true cellar dweller’s. The “Lose for Hughes” campaign is officially in full force.
5. Zadina Watch
The good news with Zadina, is he’s still, at minimum, 22 games away from making his NHL to help him stay protected from the Expansion Draft. The bad news? Zadina is not having a great year. I know, he’s only 19, but he only has 11 goals in 36 games in the AHL, and just 1 (also his only point) over his last 7. Not only that, but he had no goals and just one assist at the World Juniors this year, a tournament he led in goals a year ago. I still expect, and hope, to see Zadina up at some point down the stretch, so hopefully that will be something to keep Wings fans interested.
6. Yzerman Watch
Warning: This is NOT tampering @NHL. Ah yes, when the season concludes the rumors will really start to pick up. Yzerman’s contract is up after the year with Tampa, and he has already announced he’s resigning from his position with the Lightning after the year. One has to think the sooner the Lightning are eliminated, which unfortunately doesn’t look like it will happen quickly, the sooner the Red Wings are able to chase after Stevie Y and reunite the former captain to his team where he belongs.
7. Red Wings Playing Spoiler
This isn’t as sexy of a reason to keep watching the Red Wings, but hey everybody likes a good spoiler every now and then. Want to make sure the Blackhawks don’t get the first pick? The Red Wings have two games vs. them still. How about wanting to possibly keep Boston out of the playoffs? Well on March 31, the Red Wings may have that chance. They have one game vs. Montreal, three games vs. Buffalo (including the season finale) and even have two games vs. the Penguins in April. Bottom line, down the stretch the Red Wings will have the chance to ruin other teams playoff dreams, and if you don’t like certain teams, that’s always fun to do.
8. It’s Hockey
If you’re a Red Wings fan, you’re a hockey fan. There’s no way around it. We all love the game and we only get 82 of these, at minimum, a year. Hockey is hockey, it’s the best sport on earth and we all probably love the Red Wings. So kick back, maybe crack a cold one or two, and ride it out like the rest of us. LGRW.