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Detroit Red Wings Playoff Game Day Blog

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES

Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 3:15 PM ET
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Detroit Red Wings Playoff Game Day Blog

Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard

This season marked the first time Howard made the All-Star team; winning 31 games by the time the calendar hit February 1. That was followed by a finger injury, then the groin injury, and all of the sudden; the Red Wings netminder had just four wins to his credit over the final two-plus months of the regular season.

Howard made 27 saves in a victory over St. Louis last week, a game that had playoff intensity and feel to it. He is also 2-1-1 over his last four starts, with a stellar 1.66 GAA and a .937 save percentage, which is a good sign that those injuries are in the rearview mirror. And didn’t you just love how Howard told John Keating after sweeping Phoenix last year that he wasn’t ready to sleep until June? That’s exactly what you want to see and hear from the last line of defense.

“I’m feeling better and I’ve been playing a lot better as of late, especially compared to a month ago,” Howard said. “It was like I had been thrown out of whack, especially when we were out West, it seemed like things were going at a million miles an hour, but over the last four games, as each game has passed, I feel like I’m playing a lot better and that’s a good sign.


Bridgestone Arena
Winning on the Road

Players and fans alike are relieved that Nashville is a simple, one-hour flight from DTW, as opposed to Phoenix, Los Angeles, or San Jose. (four-plus hours and a three-hour time change) And if say, Chicago were to upset Phoenix and Detroit were to take care of the Predators, the Wings may not have to head to the West Coast until the Western Conference Final.

Those are hypothetical situations. While the Red Wings won 21 straight games at Joe Louis Arena during the regular season, they were 17-21-3 on the road in 2011-12. How’s that for Jekyl and Hyde?

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I wish I did, or else we would have solved it.”

“We were the exact opposite hockey club last year, so good on the road and not as good at home. Maybe we got so focused on it, got rolling at home to the point we weren’t so good on the road. I don’t know the answer. I know Nashville won five more games than we did on the road.”

As the fifth seed, the Red Wings will have to win at least one game at Bridgestone Arena to win the best-of-seven series.


Nashville’s Acquisitions vs. the Red Wings Health

There’s no better news to report than the fact that everybody has been skating over the last few days. This includes Darren Helm, who suffered a knee injury during an overtime loss to San Jose on March 17.

Helm’s status will be determined after today’s morning skate. Mike Babcock said the decision will be up to his player, but he’d like to have him in the lineup.

Will Helm be 100 percent? Of course not. Few players are this time of year, but having his speed and energy helps. And you have to feel good about a Red Wings squad that features a healthy Darren Helm, Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericsson.

Just like Nashville has to feel good about adding Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad and Alexander Radulov to a lineup that already included Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne and Mike Fisher.

Jiri Hudler was one player with very high praise for his former KHL counterpart.

“He was a star,” Hudler said. “The best player in the league back there and I’m pretty sure he will be here too.”

“I think it will help him a little that he came right after the season. He played a lot of minutes back home and he was one of the best players while he was there. He plays hard, brings a lot of good energy and has a good hockey sense. He’s a good playoff guy.”

What is your key to the series? Send your thoughts along to redwingssocialmedia@gmail.com and you may be featured in our mailbag later today.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80