The end of the season is in sight, and the Detroit Red Wings found themselves needing a win on home ice to try and maintain their position in the Western Conference standings against the team that trailed them by only a point: the St. Louis Blues. It was the day of the press conference confirming what everyone already knew--though still enjoyed hearing--about the 2014 Winter Classic. It was a day where the Wings needed to be tough, and resilient, and smart.
Of those three things, we witnessed the first two. The last one cost Detroit dearly.
If you are a Wings fan, or really a hockey fan, you would know how extremely important it was for Detroit to take home two points on Friday's game against Colorado. After close to a sixty-five minute exciting battle, Detroit finally landed the two needed points in overtime. Let's break this one down so you can see just how back and forth the effort was.
One had to figure coming into this evening's game that the Detroit Red Wings were going to show some spirit, perhaps even two games worth. It would've been the least they could after their embarrassing showing in front of their own fans yesterday. Sure enough, the Wings played with passion and put their 7-1 drubbing from Chicago behind them and pulled out to a 3-0 lead on the Colorado Avalanche, holding on for a 3-2 final.
There are a number of factors that led to the 4-2 defeat the Red Wings suffered tonight at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, a team who had not won on JLA ice since 2006. Even the final score is misleading, as the match wasn't even technically as close as it might lead one to believe. Devin Setoguchi scored a pair and multiple miscues by Detroit made this an easy one for the Wild. Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller notched the two Wings goals, though Miller's came with mere seconds left on the clock in the 3rd. For all intents and purposes, this game should be treated as a 4-1 loss.
The Grand Rapids Griffins are continuing to play good hockey this season. Every game has been close and really exciting to watch. Coach Blashill has brought the team to a new level with his coaching style and it has been great for the fans. He really works the bench and you can see him constantly communicating with the team throughout play. The Griffins are currently in first place in the Midwest Division with 43 points.
As I was sitting in my seat early Friday night at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids my mind was in full motion thinking of the upcoming game and season for the Grand Rapids Griffins. How would the team look this year? With players during the summer signing up overseas and the looming NHL lockout what were the Griffins going to look like and how would they perform?
Red Wings fans are still upset at the way in which the historic 2011-2012 season came to a close. How can a team with one of the leading goaltenders and the current NHL record for consecutive home victories go 4-4-2 in their last 10 AND lose home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs?
The team took quite a hit after going through a series of momentum changing injuries to stars like Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard and Nicklas Lidstrom. Some would even say that Howard hasn't been the same since the injury. That slump in the season wasn't a surprise.
It also didn't help that the Wings couldn't capitalize on some of their late season opportunities which includes them falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus, and then losing at home to Nashville, New Jersey and Chicago. The loss in Columbus just emphasizes the team's biggest setback of the season. The Wing's finished with a 17-21-3 record when playing away from the Joe.
The last seven games haven't been the best games the Detroit Red Wings have played, but they are definitely the best seven games rookie Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist has played (1 goal, 5 assists). Wings fans should feel ecstatic because they can watch a star grow, from the age of 22, which may as well be considered an infant by Red Wings management.
Fans no longer have to keep their fingers crossed, watching Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Pavel Datsyuk and hope they continue to produce into their 30s. It seems the Red Wings have truly found their new "Euro-Twin". It wasn't too long ago that we were watching Zetterberg and Datsyuk when...
There are almost two years until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia however the gears of preparation are well into use. Canada has tapped Red Wing legend Steve Yzerman to return as executive director for Canada. Wings GM Ken Holland will be a key member of Yzerman's support staff, however it's doubtful Yzerman and Holland will be the only two people with Red Wing ties at Sochi.
Of course rosters change and the Red Wings are in for a moderate overhaul over the next two seasons but there are some shoe-ins to be Olympians, some players who would be on the bubble if selections were today and some youngsters that may push for a bid as they develop.