There will come a time when it will seem like the Red Wings are playing more. Honestly.
Detroit did play four games this past week, but the two days in between St. Louis and Calgary, then two more in between Vancouver and Los Angeles made it seem less. Now, after a game tonight in Phoenix and hosting San Jose on Monday, the Wings will once again get a rest, not playing Anaheim until Friday.
Then, it’s another back-to-back contest, traveling to Columbus on Saturday after battling the Mighty Ducks. Another two days off separates that game and a Chicago meeting, the first of three straight between the Wings and Blackhawks. Can the Wings get used to this schedule, playing two games in two nights, then getting two or three days off? They’ll have to. Detroit will play on back-to-back nights 13 more times this season. They have looked good so far.
This past week was a good one for the Wings, with the only loss coming against a good Vancouver team, who may or may not have been helped with 11 powerplays. Detroit finally had a good third period against the Kings on Thursday en route to a 5-2 win. And the powerplays went the Wings way on Sunday, scoring five with the man advantage in a 6-3 win over Calgary. The week ends tonight in Phoenix, where the Coyotes have not started the season well. With only 12 goals scored, Gretzky’s team is 1-3-1 and in the bottom five of the NHL.
(Phoenix will be without former Red Wing Brett Hull, who retired today at age 41.)
Speaking of scoring, the Wings are used to getting help from just about everyone, and this season looks no different. Twelve players have scored so far in the first five games, and fifteen of 21 who have played a game have at least one point.
The Wings have eight powerplay goals so far, tied with Atlanta for most in the league. Not surprisingly, Kirk Maltby scored the team’s first shorthanded goal on Thursday. The Wings seem to be slowing as games go on; they have allowed just two goals in first periods so far this season, five in second periods and six in third periods. They had a good third against the Kings and look to keep that up.
Congratulations go out to Johan Franzen, Jason Williams and Chris Chelios, who all achieved career milestones against the Kings. Franzen’s first NHL goal was a game winner against Mathieu Garon. Thursday was the 100th career game for Williams, and the 1,400th for Chelios.
This Week’s Matchups:
October 17 vs. San Jose – The Sharks won’t surprise anyone this season if they do well. They were considered on the weak side of the West before winning the Pacific Division in 2003-2004. Obviously not rebuilding, the Sharks are young and will remain tough to beat. Their 0-2 start will quickly be forgotten.
October 21 vs. Anaheim – The Neidermayer brothers finally get to play together in the NHL. Sergei Fedorov and Teemu Selanne should mesh well and they still have Giguere – though maybe a smaller version of him. These are the guys that need to lead this team, and with only nine goals so far as a club, they need to step it up. Detroit has lost six of the past nine meetings (including playoffs), but was 36-7-7 before that.
October 22 at Columbus – What’s worse than nine goals? Seven. They have only allowed twelve, but the Bkue Jackets need to find their game. They traded Geoff Sanderson (who has a point in two games with Phoenix), so it’s up to Rick Nash. Problem is, Nash is out two weeks with an ankle sprain. If Detroit and Nashville continue to play well, Columbus could be in big trouble with the new division-unfriendly schedule.