The week of American Thanksgiving in the hockey world is significant – teams that are in a playoff spot or near it are the most likely teams to be there in late April.
The Red Wings will finish out November with 4 of 5 games at home, where they have been playing great as of late. Here’s what’s going well for the team and what has to continue for long-term success:
After a 3-2 loss to the Lightning in Tampa, Henrik Zetterberg’s postgame statement struck hard. “We aren’t good enough to win games.”
Since then, the Wings are 6-2-2 including 5 points in their last 3 games. At 23 points, they’re in the thick of the Atlantic division and the clustered Eastern conference.
Balanced scoring has helped the Wings win more games. Larkin netted his 20th point in 21 games, with Mantha right behind him at 19 points including 10 goals already. Athanasiou also has 8 points in 11 games since his return.
But it’s not just the kids who are lighting the lamp. Both Tatar and Glendening have 5 goals, Zetterberg with 12 points, Nyquist and Nielsen have 6 goals and Green has a haul of 17 points. They have 4 strong lines to work with and compete against other teams with.
Detroit’s special teams have helped them take points. The powerplay is at 22% which sits 7th overall in the league, with the penalty kill at 6th in the league at 84.6%.
Playing a simple but fast game is working well. More offensive zone time is being generated as well as attacking up ice. They’re also 8-1-2 when scoring the first goal, something they’re doing more of so far. Their defensive core isn’t spectacular, but the team is playing tighter and being patient – especially in the close games.
Which means Jimmy Howard can have less weight on his shoulders. An 8-5-2 record, his 2.34 GAA and .928 SV% is giving his team an opportunity each night to win games. He places in the top 15 for both save percentage and goals against average.
A critical home stand continues into the next month and the home team needs to establish a strong presence and earn as many points as possible. With a league so tight, the next two months could define where they end up come spring. With scoring, special teams, defense, and goaltending clicking – the Red Wings give themselves a chance to pull ahead.