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Saturday, February 29, 2020

EDITORIAL: Broken (Red) Wings that can still be mended

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The Red Wings’ record is not what they would like it to be, but players are feeling optimistic about their play despite the early results.

Judging the Detroit Red Wings season so far, they’re not that great record-wise after their first three games, at 0-1-2. However, their on-ice performance since the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets has improved steadily, showing as much in their recent back-to-back games in California against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
What the Red Wings demonstrated these last few games is that their top lines have come out to play with a sense of urgency, and playing with a lot more energy from the start of the game. The Red Wings’ offense is currently averaging around 28 shots per game through three games. Their successful performance these latter two games is due to putting more shots on net, and crashing the net more frequently on offensive rushes. Their offensive game was also driven by not just shots on net, but how they start the offense. That is, forcing turnovers in the neutral and defensive zones and going after loose pucks.
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Offense has not been the only improving factor; their defensive side of the game is improving as well. Detroit has spent less time in their defensive zone sitting back and waiting for something to happen. The tempo of their defense has been more active, attacking with, and without, the puck. This forces the opposition to kill time moving the puck instead of giving any inch of space on the net.
Of course, no game is complete if you don’t have the last line of defense to keep games close. For the Red Wings, that’s been goaltender Jimmy Howard. Entering his 10th full season with the Wings, Howard is going to be one of the key pieces that Detroit has to rely upon to win games this season. When all else seems failing, Howard has proven to make saves at very critical points in the game in his two starts. The main point seen in Monday night’s game against Anaheim was how clutch Howard was in keeping his team in the game. Especially in the last five minutes of regulation and into overtime.
It’s easy to look at the record of a team and extrapolate how they’ve performed so far. While that may be the case for this young Red Wings team, there is also potential for this team to make a statement, given their play as of late. However, there is still room for improvement, and the Wings don’t seem to be far off that track.
We’ve seen what this team is capable of doing at times in-game so far this season. The question for the majority of this season will be: Can this Red Wings team put together everything they’ve done from their first three games and pull out some victories in the process?
The Red Wings are at home on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena to host their Original 6 and division rival Toronto Maple Leafs (3-1-0, 1st Atlantic). The Leafs, led by former Wings coach Mike Babcock, along with superstars John Tavares and Auston Matthews, are seeking their third consecutive win, while the Red Wings prepare to regroup, look to slow down the high-powered Maple Leafs offense, and look to get their first win of the season. 
Sources:
ESPN.com/NH:
TheHockeyNews.com
NHL.com
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