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Feb. 3: Look Ahead in Hockeytown

It's the Red Wings' last chance to stockpile points before Olympic break

Monday, 02.3.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / Preview
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Feb. 3: Look Ahead in Hockeytown
Gustav Nyquist has scored two goals, including a game-winner, this season against the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Questions continue to swirl around the Red Wings’ locker room.

Will Pavel Datsyuk recover in time from a leg injury to captain Russia’s national team? Will Gustav Nyquist replace Johan Franzen on Sweden’s roster? Can Mike Babcock coach Team Canada to a second straight gold?

While most queries have been about the Sochi Olympics, the bigger issue is the Red Wings’ current standing in the Eastern Conference playoff race as they prepare for games against the Canucks, Panthers and Lightning this week.

Will the Red Wings get into the playoffs?

Following Sunday’s 6-5 overtime loss at Washington, the Red Wings enter this week with 60 points, a smidge ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers (60 points) for the second – and last – wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It doesn’t matter who scores if we don’t get two points, that’s our goal every time we go into a game,” said Nyquist, who enjoyed the first four-point performance of his young career on Sunday. “That (two points) is way more important. Didn’t come out the way we wanted in the first but we found a way to battle back. That was nice to see.”

The next six days leadin up to the Olympic break are critical for the Red Wings in their pursuit of a 23rd straight appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But with Detroit, Columbus, Philadelphia, Carolina, Washington, Ottawa and New Jersey all separated by two points, these six available points could be the difference between the postseason and an early start to the offseason.

This week, the Wings are facing a trio of struggling teams, which, in and of itself can present a trap. Both Vancouver and Florida have dropped four of their last five games, and Tampa Bay has lost three straight. However, against the three opponents, the Red Wings have accumulated a 2-2-3 record this season.

The Wings can’t let up on the goals-scoring accelerator and striking first blood will only help their plight. Detroit has averaged 3.33 goals in the last six games, which is up from 2.65 in the previous 46 games. Unfortunately, their goals against has also increased.

But like Babcock has said all season long, the Wings are better off when they focus on things that they can control.

With that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:

Ryan Kesler
Center  - VAN
Goals: 19 | Assists: 18 | Pts: 37
Shots: 196 | +/-: -6
MONDAY – vs. VANCOUVER (27-20-9): This will be the Red Wings’ final home game before the Olympic break. The Canucks, who are in the midst of a five-game road trip, are without defenseman Kevin Bieksa until after the break with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) is out, and forward Mike Santorelli had season-ending shoulder surgery on last Thursday. Top-line center Henrik Sedin (ribs) hasn't played since Jan. 18, though the Canucks hope he'll be able to return during this trip. … Scoring was a problem in January for the Canucks, who were held to two or fewer goals in 10 of 15 games. They have a 5-19-5 record when held to two or less goals this season. … After serving a 15-day suspension for his volcanic eruption against Calgary on Jan. 18, coach John Tortorella will return to the Canucks’ bench tonight at JLA. Without Tortorella, Vancouver posted a 2-4-0 record. … Vancouver has the NHL's fourth ranked penalty kill with an 85.6 percent success rate. Twice this season, the Canucks have not allowed a power-play goal for seven consecutive games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Livonia native Ryan Kesler has five game-winning goals, which is tied for fourth in the league, four behind Anaheim’s Corey Perry. Kesler is now two game-winning goals from tying his season best seven (2010-11), and his 25 career game-winners is ninth-best in the franchise history, one behind Thomas Gradin. … Kesler produced a season-high three points in the Canucks’ last game, a 4-3 loss at Winnipeg Friday night. He now has eight points in his last six games.

Brad Boyes
Right Wing  - FLA
Goals: 15 | Assists: 11 | Pts: 26
Shots: 132 | +/-: 1
THURSDAY – at FLORIDA (21-27-7): Despite a two-goal deficit entering the third period, the Panthers rallied behind Nick Bjugstad’s shootout winner, while goalie Tim Thomas stopped all Detroit shooters for the 5-4 victory on Jan. 26. … Rookie center Aleksander Barkov returned to the lineup after sitting out four straight games with a knee injury. The 6-foot-3 Finnish star posted a minus-2 rating in his return. Barkov, 18, who is the youngest player on Finland's national team roster, will be making his first appearance in the Winter Olympics. … Defenseman Brian Campbell has produced five goals and 18 assists in 55 games. Barring injuries, he shouldn't have any problems reaching the 30-point mark for the seventh time in his career.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Should there be a need to settle this game with the skills competition, watch out for the league’s best active goal-scorer in the shootout. Lats month, Panthers forward Brad Boyes netted his 37th career SO goal in a 2-1 win over Buffalo on Jan. 9. His lifetime 46.8 percent success rate is best among active skaters, and he’s tied for second among league leaders with six SO goals this season, including a winner vs. the Red Wings on Dec. 10. … Boyes has points in four straight games, with three goals in that stretch, giving him 15 goals and 11 assists this season.

Victor Hedman
Defense  - TBL
Goals: 11 | Assists: 25 | Pts: 36
Shots: 110 | +/-: 8
SATURDAY – at TAMPA BAY (32-18-5): This is the fourth of five regular-season meetings between these Atlantic Division opponents. The Lightning enters this week as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Following Saturday afternoon’s 2-1 loss at Montreal, the Lightning are 12-9-5 in one-goal games this season after finishing last in the NHL with a 5-12-4 record during last season’s lockout-shortened campaign. Tampa Bay is fifth in the league in 5-on-5 goal differential with a 1.27 ratio. Steven Stamkos said he’s getting closer to return to the Lightning’s lineup. Says pain is “still sharp in some areas” though he’d like to play a game or two before he heads to Russia with Team Canada. ... A youth movement is underway in Tampa Bay, where 10 players have played less than 100 career NHL games, including four that have played in 50 or fewer contests. … Tlyer Johnson (35 points, ranked No. 2) and Ondrej Palat (31 points, ranked No. 4) are among the top five rookie scorers. ...Rookie forward Nikita Kucherov has posted a goal and three assists over his past six games. … Center Valtteri Filppula missed his first game of the season, sitting out Saturday’s game in Montreal with a lower-body injury. The former Red Wing is expected to return to the Lightning’s lineup Tuesday at Minnesota.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Young defenseman Victor Hedman has produced nine points over his past five games, including three-assist games in back-to-back home wins over Ottawa and Colorado two weeks ago. Hedman is the first Lightning defenseman to accomplish that feat. … Last month, the 23-year-old played in his 300th career game, and leads all Tampa Bay defensemen in goals (11) and points (35). He ranks fourth among league defensemen in goals and is second among all skaters with four short-handed points.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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