Hockey This Week | Red Wings Report
After winning their 17th straight home game last night at Joe Louis Arena, I think it is safe to say that the Red Wings are a force to be reckoned with this season. The Wings now have an NHL-best 67 points, three clear of everyone else.
Detroit is also riding a six game overall streak in addition to the 17-gamer at home, and the Wings have been playing gritty hockey and winning close games. Last night’s game against St. Louis was another great example of the Red Wings getting it done in a hard fought game. The Wings emerged victorious by a 3-1 count, but not without plenty of controversy.
The game finished with a scrum in front of the net after several St. Louis Blues players crashed the net following a shot that was saved by Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. Howard took exception to their actions and the scuffle can be seen here. This all happened after Brad Stuart and Chris Stewart each got majors for fighting in the 2nd period, then Todd Bertuzzi and David Backes were sent off with roughing minors in the third.
In addition to the scrum, Howard had another magnificent night, stopping 21 of 22 Blues shots. Howard has been a main contributor for the Red Wings during their recent streak, and notched his NHL-best 30th win last night.
The key for the Wings in this one was their power play. Coach Mike Babcock was critical of the power play unit after last week’s game against Phoenix, but they came alive for the Wings last night. Detroit converted two power play goals in three tries, including the game-clinching goal scored by defenseman Niklas Kronwall with just over three minutes remaining.
Kronwall’s goal was the 33rd scored by a Detroit defenseman, which is good for tops in the league. The Red Wings’ ability to generate offense with their defense has been another reason for their recent success. Detroit is the only NHL team with two defensemen each with ten goals or more. Kronwall’s goal was his 11th of the season (2nd in the NHL among d-men) and captain Nicklas Lidstrom has ten (t-3rd).
For Detroit, the challenge is now keeping up the intensity going into the All-Star break (and beyond). If the team can stay aggressive and continue winning the close ones, don’t be surprised to see them as a very high seed come playoff time.
What to watch for:
- With 17 consecutive home wins, the Red Wings are now owners of the fourth longest home winning streak in league history. Look for them to tie the all-time record of 20 straight.
- Wednesday @ Montreal (7:30, NBCSP)
- ALL STAR BREAK UNTIL TUES, 1/31
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