The Detroit Red Wings have gotten off to a roaring start to the 2015-16 NHL season. Two games in they sit at 3rd in the Atlantic Division with 4 points, behind the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning who are tied for 1st with 6 points. Detroit has some big match-ups coming this week, including two divisional games against aforementioned teams. Let’s take a look:
Tuesday, October 13th – vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Red Wings have their work cut out for them, taking a 2-game win streak against the conference champions in the first full week of the season. They’ll have to use every bit of their home-ice advantage and get the crowd into the game early to get the team energized. Players such as Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, and Tomas Tatar will have to bring their A-games with them if they hope to beat the likes of Ben Bishop, who is riding a 3-game win streak, along with a .925 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average.
The defense will also need to be in top form to halt the likes of Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Ryan Callahan. Detroit will definitely be missing the defensively-responsible play of Danny DeKeyser as he’s still on IR, and will look to Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson to step up their games. The Bolts will be coming off of a win against the Boston Bruins the day before from a matinee game, so the Red Wings will have to use their fatigue later in the game to their advantage. If they win, they can tie Tampa Bay in the division standings.
Friday, October 16th – vs. Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes will be coming into the Joe with the loss to Detroit fresh in their minds, and therefore will be more energized than normal to get some revenge. If their last meeting was any indication, the Red Wings will need to tighten up the back end and their play around the net to limit Carolina’s chances. (They gave up 18 shots in the first period alone in their 4-3 victory). They’ll also need to get more time in the offensive zone early on in the game, and not rely on a late surge once they’re already down to pull out the win.
The play of the defense and goaltender will be a huge factor in this match-up. Cam Ward is a great goaltender who happens to play for a mediocre team, but he gives his team the chance to win most nights. Petr Mrazek did the same for the Red Wings in their first meeting with the Hurricanes, and whomever is in net for their second meeting will be called on to do so again. Their last meeting aside, this is a game the Red Wings by all rights should win.
Saturday, October 17th – @ Montreal Canadiens
The schedule doesn’t get any easier moving forward, and the weekend of the 16th is no different. Coming right off a game against Carolina at home, the Red Wings will have to head right out to Montreal that night and play the stifling Canadiens the following night. Montreal is currently tied for the division lead, had a decent playoff run last season, and seems to have only gotten better since. Their team is scary good on the back end with the likes of P.K. Subban heading up the defense with his booming shot, and MVP Carey Price between the pipes.
Defense, much like the game against Tampa Bay, will be key in this match-up. They’re going to have to keep Montreal out of their zone as much as possible, play a disciplined game to stay out of the penalty box, and capitalize on any of the few errors the Canadiens may end up making.
It’s sure to be an exciting week for Red Wings fans, as the boys in red will get their first real challenges of the new season. GO WINGS!