The Detroit Red Wings are coming off their most successful weekend of the season, winning two tight games against the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings to improve to 7-4-1 on the year.
Wings starting goaltender Jimmy Howard got back between the pipes after being given the night off on Thursday, and looked exceptionally sharp. Howard stopped 68 of the 71 shots he faced in the two games for a save percentage of .957, and it appears that the time to rest has benefited his play. Howard had previously started all nine of the Red Wings’ games this season, and had not been playing up to his potential, with a GAA at 2.8 and save percentage around .900.
Detroit took on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday as a part of the Hockey Day in Canada festivities, and defeated the away side by a narrow 2 – 1 margin. Niklas Kronwall scored the eventual winner on the power play with 14 minutes remaining in the third, and Howard made 23 saves in the win. Pavel Datsyuk also scored for the Red Wings, while Justin Schultz scored the lone Oilers tally.
Howard was even better in goal in the Sunday afternoon tilt with the Kings, a game in which Detroit were outshot 47 – 31. Howard made several spectacular saves, and kept the Wings in a game which they were largely outplayed and outchanced. Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall told reporters after the game that the team felt “Howard had really stole that one… no doubt.” Detroit held a slim 2 -1 lead with less than a minute to go in the third period on goals by Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk before Alec Martinez was able to put home a rebound with only :53 seconds remaining in regulation.
But Howard was not the only Wing to play hero. Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson replied to the late Kings equalizer with a last-second goal of his own; putting an unlikely shot through Jonathan Quick with only four seconds left in the third period for the Wings win. The goal was an illustration of the ‘throw the puck at the net and good things will happen’ mantra, and ultimately how the goal was scored won’t matter. A win is a win, and the Wings will be happy to take two points after a busy weekend.
Detroit is now back on track after a shaky start to the NHL season. The Wings scored three power play goals on Saturday and Sunday, and were killing penalties at a much more efficient rate. Superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are leading the team in scoring, and off-season acquisition Damien Brunner is living up to the hype, with nine points through twelve NHL games.
The pieces are finally falling into place for the Red Wings, and as more players continue to come back from injuries, expect the Wings to continue in this upward trajectory. If Jimmy Howard can live up to the expectations he set this weekend, the Red Wings league leading 21 consecutive playoff appearances is a streak which is unlikely to die, at least not this season.
About the Author
Written by Kyle Myers
Journalism student at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Sports fanatic, aspiring sports journalist.