I learned a long time ago to enjoy any small successes in the league since they’re usually short lived
The Wings have been hot as of late having gone 7-1-2 in their last 10 games temporarily putting them into a tie for the Conference lead.
So far the team has only made a couple of small roster moves with the addition of Colby Armstrong through trade and a UFA signing of Antti Miettinen. Miettinen was originally a Red Wing draft selection, however, he has played most of his HFNHL career in Anaheim before returning.
The most significant move has been a coaching change as long time, cup winning, coach Guy Carboneau stepped down and was replaced by Jacques Martin.
Lundqvist has been rock solid as usual currently ranked 6th in GAA and Sav% but in a season where half of the leagues starting goaltenders have a .920 or better save percentage Lundqvist doesn’t represent as much of a deciding factor as he should.
The tipping point for the Wings so far has been finding chemistry among forwards as the tandems of Giroux-Versteeg on the top line and Stepan-Grabovski on the second line have given the team an effective 1-2 punch. These four players are averaging a point per game.
Another key has been staying out of the penalty box. With a PK percentage as bad as the Wings have right now it’s not so much a benefit as a survival necessity. The team has the second lowest PIM per game which in itself is good but even then most of those have been offsetting penalties which have resulted in the team giving their opponents a league low 1.5 powerplay opportunities per game.
All that said the standings do not tell the true story as the Wings have unexpectently padded their stats against the Jackets taking 11 of 14 possible points. Points against the other three divisional rivals have been harder to come by as the team was only a hair above .500 (14 of 26 potential points) against them.
With the difference between the conference lead and 9th place being only 2½ games there is no room to slip heading into the next phase of the season. It’s rumoured GM Niece (senior) is actively engaged in trade talks with a couple of teams in an attempt to address some gaps but he would neither confirm or deny these reports saying only “our competition isn’t going to sit idly by and it’s my responsibility to do what I can to ensure we stay in the playoff hunt”.
I only see 6 games between us so far, with 4 points for Columbus and 9 points for Detroit thanks to last night's O/T loss.
However you slice it, though, Detroit has had our number this season. Yet again.
However, despite coming out on the wrong end of the tough matchup with the Wings, the Jackets are still playing better than .500 hockey, so it looks like the Hawks and Preds have been suffering as a result.
The scary thing is that an 11-10-1 record is only good enough for 10th in the West. I'm going I have to find a way to beat good teams if I want to work my way back into the playoff picture.
By the way, I wish I knew your secret for low PIMs - I have high-discipline players and low physical settings (with lower than usual hits as a result), and yet I'm giving up an extra power play or two against every night. Stupid sim.