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Wings need push to make playoffs

Thursday, 02.25.2010 / 11:24 AM ET / News
By Michael Caples  - Detroit Red Wings Staff Writer
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Wings need push to make playoffs
WILD, WILD WEST

PTS
GAMES
LEFT
VS
VS
VS
VS
VS

DETROIT 68 21 -- 0 2 0 3
ANAHEIM
67 20 0 -- 1 2 1
CALGARY 69 20 2 1 -- 0 0
DALLAS
68 21 0 2 0 -- 1
NASHVILLE
71 21 3 1 0 1 --
(Above is a breakdown of what five Western Conference teams will see in the remainder of their schedules, including matchups between the teams close in the standings.)

DETROIT
– When the Red Wings return from the Olympic break they’ll likely have a healthy squad for the first time this season.  A full roster will come at a perfect time for the Wings as they prepare for a challenge they haven’t seen in years – a fight for a playoff spot.

With 21 games left, the Wings are one point out of the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference. The race will be tight with four points separating the No. 7 seed (Nashville) through the No. 11 (Anaheim).

After many years of Central Division dominance, and routinely finishing in the top-four in the West, the Wings have had to fight for wins as injuries have mounted this season. At one point, the Wings were playing without nine players, all of whom usually log significant ice-time.

“It’s been tough,” Wings forward Kris Draper said. “There’s been a lot of injuries. … They all seem to be major. But we’re getting guys back; we’re going to get guys healthy.  We have to go and be the team that we feel that we can be night in, and night out.”

The Wings showed what they are capable of in their last two games prior to the Olympic break. Detroit made a late comeback to take San Jose – the top team in the Western Conference – to a shootout, and posted an impressive 4-1 win over Ottawa. It was only the Senators second loss in 15 games.

When asked if the Wings were building momentum for the final stretch, Johan Franzen, who returned this month from a torn ACL, said the two-week break wouldn’t help, but he liked what he’s seen lately.

“I don’t think we’re going to keep momentum that long,” Franzen said. “But I think we’ve been playing better and better, so hopefully we can continue doing that.”

One problem the Wings have faced this season is scoring goals. Detroit is 22nd in goals per game (2.54), and 12th total goals in the conference (159).

“I think we’ve got to win those tight games,” Franzen said. “Get that confidence, and then (the scoring’s) going to get back on track. It’s hard when you haven’t won in a while, and it’s hard to get the puck in the net. If we start winning, confidence will take care of that I think.”

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who also returned from a lengthy knee injury, said that knowing the team could be healthy after the break is great motivation. The Olympics has given Kronwall and Franzen a chance to get back into game form. It’s provided time for non-Olympians, like Tomas Holmstrom and Patrick Eaves, to heal, and given rookie goalie Jimmy Howard a bit of a break.

“It helps a lot, just knowing everyone is good to go will be huge,” Kronwall said. “We all know that the last six weeks of the season is going to be very important for us to get into the playoffs. So of course we’re thrilled to get back here after the Olympics and get going again.”

It will be a tough battle within the Western Conference for playoff spots when the NHL resumes on Monday. Even though the Wings are currently one point behind Calgary for the last spot, Detroit only trails Colorado by eight points for the No. 6 seed. However, the Wings will be focused on the four log-jammed teams between Nos. 7-11: Nashville, Calgary, Dallas and Anaheim.

The Wings have three games remaining with Nashville, and two against Calgary. A winning record in those five games could go a long way to securing a playoff berth.

Detroit must also receive help, because they don’t have any games left against Dallas and Anaheim.




SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 NJD 57 29 21 7 125 124 65
7 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
8 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
9 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 BUF 57 23 28 6 135 156 52
15 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89