For the last few seasons, it’s been a tough time for the Detroit Red Wings.
They’ve had losing seasons, have missed the playoffs, have not been exciting to watch and in general, just in a bad position franchise-wise. For a team that won two Cups in the ’90s (’97 and ’98) and 2000s (’02 and ’08), this was not a familiar position for the team or its fans.
Going into this season, much of the same was expected from this hockey club. The team really does not have an identity and their roster does not exactly spell out success.
Well, it appears that the Red Wings are doing everything they can to prove me wrong. In fact, they may be trying to prove their fans and hockey pundits across North America they are wrong.
As of this writing, the team is 15-16-5. I am aware that is a losing record, but in the Eastern Conference where it is pretty tight, they are actually only six points out of the second wild card spot.
For starters, the team’s offense has not been too bad this season. Yes, they are currently 18th in the league in goals scored with 102 in 36 games, but they are averaging close to three goals per game.
Dylan Larkin, 22-years-old, currently leads this team with 34 points (15 goals and 19 assists). Larkin has a ton of speed, a great shot, and an unbelievable work ethic that helps him win a lot of puck battles.
Following Larkin are players like Gustav Nyquist (31 points), Frans Nielsen (22 points), Andreas Athanasiou (20 points) and Tyler Bertuzzi (19 points). This may not seem like a lot of points, but for a team that has a lot of young players up front, these kinds of numbers are more than reasonable.
Secondly, this team has been getting great goaltender from Jimmy Howard. While the team has struggled over the last few seasons, Howard’s play between the pipes has not really faltered.
Howard, 34, is currently (December 21) 10-7-4 with a 2.69 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. For a team that allows close to 35 shots against a game, that save percentage is remarkable.
Night in and night out, Howard is his team’s best player. He keeps his team in games they have no business in and when he is between the pipes, they are a competitive hockey club.
Speaking of keeping the puck out of the net, the team is
Statistically, this team is a middle of the pack club in a few categories. As of this writing, They are 21st in points, 18th in goals for, 17th on the power play, and 17th on the penalty kill.
What you have in the end is a competitive hockey club. While they are not an elite NHL club or a team that you will find at or near the top of the standings, they are a team that will work hard for two points and make their opponents play their best game in order to beat them.
For a team that is in the process of rebuilding, that is really all you can ask for.
Photo: NBC Sports