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Bleacher Report: 5 positive things in the Red Wings

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From Bleacher Report:


1. Jimmy Howard

For a while there, it looked as if Jimmy Howard might have been the first Detroit goalie in recent memory to not be second-guessed and scapegoated after every loss.

Then came this season.

Howard is in the midst of the worst season of his NHL career with an 8-10-8 record, 2.67 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

Still, there is reason to hope Howard can regain his form moving forward.

Howard is off to a substantially better start in 2014, going 2-1-1 in his four January starts and posting a 2.00 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Additionally, Howard has delivered two 44-save performances against the Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings, respectively, the latter a true game-stealer.

Four games may be a small sample size to go on, but if Howard continues the rest of 2014 as he’s started it, the playoffs will be a given.

2. The Red Wings Are Playing a Simpler Game

With the Red Wings depleted by injuries, playing the kind of slick, East-West, puck-possession game they’d like to hasn’t been an option for most of the season.

However, that hasn’t stopped them from trying to play that way on many nights, resulting in turnovers, failed offensive breakouts and miscues.

The snow-covered ice the Red Wings played on during the 2014 Winter Classic forced them to focus on moving the puck up the boards and limit their pass attempts through the middle. It essentially forced them to play a simpler, more conservative North-South style; a style they seem to have stuck with after they left the Big House.

Of late, the Red Wings have exhibited a smarter, grittier style of play that seems to be working for them. When the injured players return, perhaps they can once again try their hand at East-West hockey.

For now, the team seems to understand that earning points is better achieved with a North-South approach.

3. The Penalty Kill Remains Strong

Detroit’s power play, currently ranked 20th in the NHL at 16.7 percent effectiveness and 0-for-21 in the past five games, has been brutally victimized by the injuries to power-play regulars like Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson, as Ansar Khan of MLive.com points out.

However, their penalty kill has remained impressive, working at 85.1 percent effectiveness and ranked sixth overall in the NHL.

Defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser, along with forwards Joakim Andersson and Drew Miller, have provided the Red Wings with the steadiest foursome when down a man.

However, young center Luke Glendening is emerging as a solid penalty-killer in his own right.

With special teams often the difference between victory and defeat, a strong penalty kill is one reason to think the Red Wings’ playoff hopes might be buoyed moving forward.

4. The Kids Are Doing Alright

The Red Wings’ depleted roster has allowed some of the organization’s young talent to emerge into more prominent roles.

While players like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist can be counted among the “overripe” players making an impact in the absence of veteran stars, the aforementioned Glendening, Tomas Jurco and, more recently, Riley Sheahan have been allowed to contribute more regularly than they would had the team been healthy.

A healthy roster of proven veterans would be preferred over one dotted with first-year players. However, the experience these players are gaining now is invaluable to their ability to contribute to the team moving forward.

These young players are helping the team earn wins it desperately needs. What’s more, they’re proving that they can be counted on down the stretch to contribute when needed.

5. A Loss to the Best Proves They've Got What It Takes to Win Against the Rest

The Red Wings' trip to California was mildly successful when looking at the 1-2-0 record that resulted after facing the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

While the first game was utterly forgettable and the second game a well-earned victory, it was the Red Wings’ last game against the NHL’s best team that might be the highlight of their trip.

Even without forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Johan Franzen, the Red Wings still managed to nearly match Anaheim’s offensive push, firing 22 shots to Anaheim’s 23.

While that single additional shot ended up being the difference-maker for Anaheim, the Red Wings played one of their better games of the season. If not for a couple of posts, the Red Wings may well have upset the Ducks yet again at the Honda Center.

Had they lost 6-0, it would have been expected, even understandable, given Anaheim’s dominance and Detroit’s diminished roster. Still, the Red Wings managed to hang tough with the league’s best team. One can bet that that will be something they won’t forget as the season continues.

Should the Red Wings continue to play as determined and as gritty as they did against Anaheim, they will surely have enough success against lesser foes to make the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year.

Edited by haroldsnepsts
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I appreciate your optimism. The year is the worst I've seen in my lifetime but you're right that it's not all bad.

Tatar has shown he's not a flash in the pan like Brunner seems to have been. His aggression is refreshing. Nyquist could be a future leader of this club, call me crazy. Smith has improved and our prospects look legit in their short stunts.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg have been even better than normal while they were healthy.

I think if we can make playoffs we can make conference finals. They are very inconsistent, but after last season's amazing run I think they still have that ability to take it to anotger level when it's all on the line. And the rookies whose inexperience cost us the playoffs are more expeeienced now. Key is: make the playoffs.

Assuming all but one or two are healthy after the Olympics I think they will go on a tear. I think there are just too many distractions this year and that should be the last one.

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Warning this post will seem snobby, I promise!

Living through the Dead Wings era, I appreciate this team's success.

In an era with Parity and all the other bull crap the Wings are the San Antonio Spurs/New England Patriots of the NHL.

Sustained excellence is not longer achieve by out spending everyone, you have to have savvy front office folks, great scouts, and players committed to winning above all.

The Wings were 1 win away from the WCF last year, personally I was very happy with last years end results. Sure there were frustrating times and I wish they had won the cup.

But I am not an all or nothing fan (Please don't take that as me telling you how to be a fan), I appreciate success, hell I am a red sox fan, I understand longing for a successful team.

I think the Wings are building a strong team, all while drafting late every year. They have no top 10 draft picks on the team or in the pipe, but Tatar, Andersson, Dekeyser, and Nyquist show me lots of promise and have me excited for the future.

I am a biased Howard fan, I think he will be, when all is said and done, a shade better than Ozzie. Which in my opinion would put him just outside the Hall of Fame and just shy of having his number retired.

In Maine he was a work horse routinely making high 40s to 50 saves a night. EDIT: My point here was that he does better with more work.

He is a solid top 10 netminder in this league, with a good D in front of him I can see him winning multiple cups as the starter. But then again the youngster Mrazek may push him from his post sooner than he can build that resume!

Edited by Opie

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Did you write this article for Bleacher Report? Or cut and paste Matt Hutter's article into this thread.


The fact that the OP has done this twice this morning and has used work from two different writers means he's probably neither and is just trying to take credit for their work over a community forum. Not sure if this is plagiarism or just really pathetic.

Anyway, the only positive I see right now is getting healthy.

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I would say the biggest positive for us is that we've done reasonably well for ourselves despite the injuries and slumps and HBO/WC distractions and not being able to win shootouts and facing a number of teams that are as good as or better than us and Kyle Quincey and Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi and sucking at home etc. We keep finding ways to lose, yet we're still very much in this thing. Imagine what might happen if we actually string some wins together.

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the biggest positive is that an "off season" for the wings = playoff bubble team. while making the playoffs isn't a given nowadays, the wings are a team that know how to get there.. and they will.

i too cannot wait to watch a fully healthy detroit red wings roster.

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