Detroit Red Wings Week Ahead: Merry Christmas
A light week still features two games against division opponents.
If the schedule is going to make me go without hockey for three days, I'd rather it happen after a Detroit Red Wings victory. Let's make that happen this week, eh?
Tuesday: Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings head into the Christmas break facing the Buffalo Sabres. The last time we faced off against these Atlantic Division basement dwellers, the Sabres lulled the Red Wings to the shootout where they promptly took their second point and left us wondering what the hell just happened.
Buffalo had a tough week last week, losing all three games, even if they took a point out of the game against the Boston Bruins. They suffered consecutive 5-1 demolitions at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche before falling to the Bruins on Sunday in overtime.
The Sabres had a significant stretch of winning games, so they've managed to get out of the NHL basement to avoid the company of the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers. (Would you look at that, Cup finalists in 2006 and co-cellar-dwellers in 2014.) There's still a long way to go for the franchise, but they will definitely have the leading vote-getter by the time the All-Star Game hits in Zemgus Girgensons.
Saturday: Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators
TV: FSD, CBC, TVA
Saturday's matchup against the Senators will be the third matchup of four this season with the friendlier Ontario team (but still not very friendly). The teams have split regulation victories so far this season, with the last meeting going to Detroit thanks to a two-goal effort in Stephen Weiss' first game back from a Grand Rapids conditioning stint.
The Senators are doing what they can to hold off the Sabres, with Buffalo having 29 points and Ottawa, 34. That 34 number still puts them well out of a wild card spot, so if the Paul MacLean firing is going to have any kind of effect, now would be a good time to start (except not against the Red Wings). The Senators have gone 3-2-1 since firing their head coach.
Jimmy Howard at last update was listed as day-to-day after "tests" revealed no significant damage to his injured groin. We'll find out hopefully later today whether he'll dress/ play Tuesday against Buffalo.
Sticking with the goalies, I wasn't around for this update last week, but Jonas Gustavsson is "still weeks away" from a return. Whether this new timetable changes his initial "out two months" projection remains to be seen.
And finally, it looks like Weiss's status has been upgraded to day-to-day, with a hopeful return before the holiday break. He was placed on short-term injured reserve, so Ken Holland is going to have to do some roster shuffling to get the right people in Detroit.
I can only imagine what writing this section would have been like if we did this format last season.
- Can I just skip this, please?
- Six goals in six games. Haven't scored at least three since the win against Carolina on Dec. 7.
- The Red Wings are six points clear of Boston in the division, and it's helpful that they're also the team just outside of a wild card spot. If we're not careful, Toronto's going to take a guaranteed divisional spot.
- On the other hand, it is still quite early to be too concerned about playoff seeding, especially when the Red Wings have had a pretty successful first 34 games of the season considering the expectations and considering how their possession is outpacing their production over the last few games.
- Despite going pointless in three straight games before scoring a goal on Sunday, Pavel Datsyuk is still managing a cool 24 points in 23 games for a nice near-point-per-game pace. He is currently the only Red Wing at or above 1.00 points per game.
- One of the more frustrating aspects of this losing streak is that December has a ton of home games. Fourteen games in the last month of the year, 10 of them at home, and the Red Wings have managed a 2-2-4 record at the Joe, with two more games this month in Detroit.
Spread some holiday cheer, Wings. Just win, baby.
Ken Holland's Christmas wish list has what at the top?
|Top six forward||18|