The way this team is playing, I'd be shocked if we don't finish top 2 in the Atlantic. Overtaking Montreal will be tough for sure, but as of right now they're only 7 points up, and we have the game in hand. I see Ottawa and Boston falling off way before Detroit, and Tampa could turn it around but they'll be in tough trying to catch us, the same way we are with Montreal. They're 5 points back, and we also have the game in hand on them as well. We survived a pretty grueling early schedule, with back to back games virtually every weekend, and it should only get easier from here on out (in regards to the schedule, not necessarily the competition...). We have our Western Canada road trip out of the way, but we still have our California trip coming up in January.
There's no doubt that Blashill is a great coach but regardless of who was going to be behind the bench this team has been a team on the rise for a while, and I don't see us slowing down going forward. It may look genius to have Nyquist and Tatar clicking, but they're two really good young players, and they're just entering their prime now. I don't really think it should be that much of a surprise that they're playing well together. I do still think they'd benefit from playing on separate lines but as long as it's working, I guess it's not much point in mixing things up. If we do end up finishing top 2 in the Atlantic, you'd have to think Blash would be in the conversation of Jack Adams candidates. He definitely has a shot at being the first Red Wing coach to win it since some guy named Scotty Bowman exactly 20 years ago...
Florida also ahead of Tampa, with an extra game to play. If they get in a battle with each other or Tampa look at it being "5 teams ahead of us" rather than looking at points, a distraction like that could make 2nd very achievable for us. Bear in mind Montreal have lost 2 straight as well, so catching them isn't impossible - they also have the WC to prepare for, which is always a tad of a distraction.
- krsmith17 likes this