The Detroit Red Wings may not have a lot to show for themselves at this point, with the playoffs out of the picture and just 66 points.
But a funny thing is happening as the season pulls into the station: the Red Wings are winning.
They’re 5-5 in their last 10 games and have won their last two, including a 3-2 win against the San Jose Sharks Monday.
What makes these wins unique is that Detroit has picked up the pace on a road trip that was supposed to be all sorts of awful. This criss-crossing jaunt has produced less than ideal conditions, but the Red Wings have hung in and are arguably playing their best hockey of the season.
Too little, too late.
But the hope pouring out of Detroit, that the team can put together a decent effort and can knock off some daunting teams, is worth noting.
The road swing will end Thursday in Buffalo and, funnily enough, the Red Wings have already won six of a possible eight points thanks to wins over San Jose, Vegas and New York.
The accrual of points looks good for the stats line and does some favours in terms of self-esteem. It also plays up some stimulating storylines, like how Detroit’s getting these wins with a rather hurt lineup. The Red Wings had to dress 11 forwards and seven defenders against San Jose, that’s how depleted the troops are.
So, what happens next?
If the Red Wings end the season on a surge they can be proud of, it could contextualize things in the summer. The team has goalie Jimmy Howard locked in to a one-year contract, so that’s one thing off the to-do list. Coach Jeff Blashill is on the tip of a new deal, so that would grant some semi-permanency during a time in which coaches are fired like, well, frequently.
Detroit has struggled to find goals all season. They’ve scored just 206 while allowing 258 goals against, a differential of minus-52. Only Ottawa, Anaheim and Los Angeles are worse.
This is, mind you, a team on the verge. The Red Wings seem set to turn a corner and start establishing their spot in the NHL again. Rumours have been flying about Steve Yzerman returning to the Motor City, maybe sometime after Ken Holland and Co. have had time to process an approach to the draft. If that happens, expect big things.
For now, the Red Wings are at least making it interesting for the concluding games of the season. While it won’t change the truth of missing the playoffs yet again, such an outpouring can work wonders for a fanbase eager to start the next chapter in the history of this storied franchise.
(Photo credit: NHL)