April 1: Week Ahead in Hockeytown
Red Wings sandwich another trip west with two home games
April 7 is the final Meijer Kids Day of the season with the first 2,500 kids (12 and under) receiving winged wheel sunglasses, courtesy of Meijer. Kids can visit the giveaway locations at sections 106, 112, 124 and at the east doors on the Joe Louis Arena concourse. … In keeping with the kids theme, it’s also Wings for Wishes; a fundraising night for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There will be a puck draw on the concourse behind section 126 where 300 autographed pucks will be available for purchase at $25 each. One lucky fan will find their puck signed in gold and get a post-game meet-and-greet with Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. Also on the concourse, a $1 donation allows fans to place a star on the wall at section 112 with their name on it.
By Ayron Sequeira
“Just forget about it and move on,” said goalie Jimmy Howard, who allowed four goals before he was pulled in the second period of Sunday’s loss. “It's going to happen over the course of the season. Every team goes through it. You just got to be mentally tough and forget about it.
“It happens, stuff like this throughout the season. You can't explain it. We'll come back (Monday) and get right back into it.”
With just 13 games remaining, the Wings are facing another important week with upcoming games against Phoenix, St. Louis and two against Colorado. The Avalanche are in Detroit for a game tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
According to coach Mike Babcock, Howard will be back between the pipes on Monday.
With the exception of the season-opener – a forgettable 6-0 loss at St. Louis – the Wings have had tremendous success against the teams on this week’s docket. Detroit is 4-1-1 against the Coyotes, Blues and Avs.
Sunday’s loss was the second straight in regulation for the Red Wings, who hadn’t dropped two straight in more than a month. But the Wings desprately need wins, epsecially with several teams nipping at their heels in the Western Conference standings. There are six teams within five points of the Wings, who have 39 points.
But clearly, the Wings were bothered by the latest loss, especially since they’ve scored just once in the last six periods. Detroit lost a 2-0 decision at San Jose last Thursday.
“The bottom line is whatever we did (Sunday) was poor,” Babcock said. “And it doesn’t reflect well on us at all as far as our preparation goes. … So we have a game (Monday).”
The Red Wings have an off-day on Tuesday before they head west for back-to-back games at Phoenix and Colorado on Thursday and Friday. The Wings wrap-up their five-game season series against Blues with a nationally televised matinee on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
So, with that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:
SOG: 82 | +/-: -6
PLAYER TO WATCH: Right wing P.A. Parenteau has a five-game point streak, with two goals and five assists, and has 20 points in his last 16 games. Since Feb. 28, only two NHL players – Sidney Crosby (26) and Chris Kunitz (21) – have totaled more points. Parenteau had a team-high 18 points in 15 games in March, setting a new career-high for points in a single month. He signed with Colorado as a free agent last summer, and now leads the team in goals (14), assists (21) and points (35). His 14 goals are tied for the most of any NHL player who switched teams prior to the 2012-13 season, equaling Dallas' Jaromir Jagr, Minnesota's Zach Parise and Toronto's James van Riemsdyk. Parenteau's 34 points rank second among players who have swapped jerseys behind only Washington's Mike Ribeiro (35).
SOG: 76 | +/-: 4
PLAYER TO WATCH: One of the most fluid young defenseman in the league, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is among the Coyotes’ top offensive contributors. The 21-year-old defenseman is tied for first among all Phoenix blue-liners in scoring with 19 points, and leads the team with 16 assists. He ranks is tied for seventh among all NHL defensemen in points, and is first on the team with five multi-point games. Ekman-Larsson signed a six-year contract with the Coyotes on March 15. In eight career games against the Red Wings, Ekman-Larsson has been held to one assist with a minus-3 rating and 12 shots.
SOG: 47 | +/-: -3
PLAYER TO WATCH: Since signing a new two-year contract worth $10 million last month, Ryan O'Reilly has jumped toward the top of the team scoring race. After being held scoreless in his first two games this season, including the March 5 game at Detroit, O’Reilly has produced 13 points with four goals in 14 games in March, matching his career-high for points in a single month. He also had 13 points in February, 2012. … Like Mike Modano did when he signed with the Red Wings, O’Reilly now wears No. 90 this season, giving up on No. 37, which he wore the first three years with the Avs. Always a fan of No. 9, O’Reilly simply accepted the number that he was given when he arrived in Denver four years ago, because No. 9 was taken.
SOG: 65 | +/-: 1
PLAYER TO WATCH: The resurgent Chris Stewart enjoyed another incredibly productive month of March. For his career, the Toronto native has accrued 54 points in 68 games during March, while February is a distant second at 34 points in 60 games. All eight of the right wing’s goals last month came at even-strength, helping the Blues earn a +5 goal differential. Prior to March, the Blues were No. 22 with a -6 differential. Stewart finished the month with 16 points. … Stewart is among a trio of Blues – the others are rookie Vladimir Tarasenko and center Patrik Berglund – with three goals against the Red Wings this season.