With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Wings go into every game with the possibility of it being their last as the group that they’ve had all season. With Luke Glendening and Danny DeKeyser surfacing in trade rumours this week, as well as the usual chatter on Mike Green, Nyquist/Tatar, and the goalies, there is a lot of uncertainty about the roster right now.
That didn’t let this team affect them this week, though, as they gained six of a possible eight points since last Saturday.
The Wings’ schedule as of late has not been easy, but they’ve held their own and fared well. They finished last week with the terrible collapse against the New York Islanders. I started to have third period flashbacks in last Sunday’s matinee game against the Washington Capitals. The Wings were up 4-1 in the third period when the Caps started to claw their way back. They forced overtime, which Tomas Tatar promptly ended with a nifty little move to slide it past Braden Holtby.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 11, 2018
After that, the Wings hosted the Anaheim Ducks at home and played great through the first two periods. Dylan Larkin capitalized on a bad Kevin Bieksa mistake in front of the net and Frans Nielsen sniped a one-time into the bottom left corner. The third period created more anxiety for fans as the Ducks scored late in the period, seeming to stage another late game comeback against these Wings. Detroit held on, though, and won 2-1.
The one game Detroit lost this week was, of course, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Wings were once again tormented by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov who both had a multi-point game. I seriously wonder how many of these games Detroit could win if Stamkos or Kucherov were not in the lineup. Jimmy Howard turned away 28 of the 32 Tampa Bay shots in the 4-1 defeat.
Finally, last night the Wings were in Nashville, accompanied by their dads for the annual Dad’s Trip. They performed well, keeping pace with the dangerous Predators and beating them by a score of 3-1. Petr Mrazek faced 34 shots in a stunning shutdown performance and Luke Witkowski scored his first ever NHL goal as he replaced an injured Mike Green in the lineup. I criticize Witkowski as much the next fan, but this was a fun moment to take in. What is scary, however, is that Mike Green is hurt. Blashill said it wasn’t serious, but he’ll miss his second straight game tonight against the Maple Leafs.
The Regular Stats
With a total of 14 goals scored over the course of the last four games, there were a lot of points to go around. Leading the charge was Frans Nielsen who had a great game against the Ducks and added three assists to his point total.
Tomas Tatar and Anthony Mantha have also bounced back as of late, seriously helping the Wings out in the goals category. Tatar scored the game winner in overtime against the Capitals.
Larkin has kept up his production and Nick Jensen had an impressive week with three assists. The 27-year-old has had a lackluster season so far, but he’s finding his confidence and offensive touch in the last four games.
Larkin continues to lead the team offensively, even with Henrik Zetterberg picking up his production in 2018. Larkin has proven that he can lead the offensive charge and carry a heavy defensive load.
Mantha is one goal away from 20. It’ll be the first time the young winger hits this milestone. He’ll also crack the 40-point barrier before this season is over.
Darren Helm crossed the 20-point threshold this week as Andreas Athanasiou has been slowly falling down this chart. The young winger needs to find his legs soon. The Wings need him performing at his highest level if they want to climb their way out of the basement.
The Fancy Stats
The Wings enjoyed a nice little bump against the Islanders and the Capitals before crashing back down to reality in the 47-48% range. This is definitely closer to their season average. This was only the second time this season their Corsi percentage spiked that high and they’ve built some momentum off of it with their string of victories as of late. Let’s see how long they can keep it up for.
It’s pretty clear now that nobody is going to catch the top-3 teams in the Atlantic Division. At this point, it’s just a matter of where those top-3 teams are going to land. Personally, I think Boston could steal that top spot from Tampa. They’ve got three games in hand and a winning record.
As for the bottom, nobody is going to take that bottom spot from Buffalo, but Florida and Detroit feel like they still have a shot a Wild Card spot.
It is a long shot, though. Six and seven points back with four teams to jump is no easy feat. It also takes a lot of hoping and praying that other teams lose. The Rangers lost today, but how much can you count on that? Are you expecting the Islanders, Blue Jackets, and Huricanes to go on losing streaks and fall out of it? I’m not.
THE WINGS NATION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Witkowski, you ole dog you! After drawing into the lineup on defense when Mike Green was ruled out, nobody expected Witter to escape with a goal. But he did. And it was a nice one too!
.@L28witko's first career NHL goal is a beauty!
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 18, 2018
Witkowski will be back in the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In conclusion, despite this strong week that makes this team fun to cheer for, their playoff chances are too far gone to come back and steal a shot. With the trade deadline a little over a week away, we could be looking at a very different roster going into March. The changes made will not make this team immediately better. Expect the slop to get steeper and the fall to be harder once the deadline passes.
Detroit starts a four game home stand this week as they take on the Leafs, the Preds (again), the Sabres, and the Hurricanes.
February 18 – vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:00 P.M. ET
February 20 – vs. Nashville Predators, 7:30 P.M. ET
February 22 – vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:30 P.M. ET
February 24 – vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7:00 P.M. ET