The Red Wings have 13 games remaining in the regular-season, and currently have a pretty comfortable seat in the No. 2 spot with 90 points, even though Chicago is in the rearview mirror with 82 points.
But don’t think the Red Wings’ players are looking over their shoulders.
“I think our focus the whole year has been about what we are doing,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall
said. “It’s never going to be what the other teams do. We all know that we have the ability in here and it has to come from within.
“If we can put everything together, and pay attention to the details, and focus on those things that we want to be doing, then I think we’re in good shape, no matter what the other teams are doing.”
Beginning the month with four straight losses wasn’t ideal, but after wins over Edmonton and St. Louis on back-to-back nights were huge for the Wings, who finish the season with eight games at Joe Louis Arena.
Picking up four points, especially against the Oilers and Blues, who are on the outside of the playoff picture, was a confidence boast.
“We got a bit of a break Friday night against Edmonton, but I thought we created some of the breaks, too, by working hard, shooting the pucks and getting to the net,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said. “In the Blues game, once they tied it up, I thought we settled down and just starting playing again. We got on the back of our heels at the start of the third period, but once we started playing again, I thought we started playing with that confidence again.”
The week ahead will present yet another interesting test for the Wings, who will play three games in four days, starting with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
“Washington is another one of those Eastern Conference teams that is fun to play,” Kronwall said. “They have a great lineup with a lot of talent, and a lot of offensive ability. They’ve been playing really well as of late, so it will be a big challenge for us.”
The Caps’ power-play has been woeful, this season, lingering toward the bottom of the league rankings, but the recent acquisitions of center Jason Arnott and defenseman Dennis Wideman has provided some improvement. In seven games with the Caps, the veteran duo has combined for two goals and seven assists and a plus-12 rating.
“It’s another good addition to their PP,” Kronwall said. “I don’t know if (Mike) Green is back playing, or not, but obviously getting Wideman in there is good for them. They have so much depth. They have (Alex) Ovechkin, who can do pretty much anything on his own, and it will be a big challenge for us.”THREE-POINTER:
For the first time this season, Kronwall posted a three-point night with a goal and two assists in the Wings’ 5-3 win over the Blues. His last just performance came over a year ago when he scored twice and added an assist in a 9-1 win at Columbus on Nov. 11, 2009.
“It’s big for us anytime that the defense can help out with the scoring,” Kronwall said. “Obviously, it helps to get some load off of the rest of the guys, definitely. I think the way we play the game, we try to get everyone involved, and be active.
“It was just one of those nights when the bounces go your way. I mean, I of them was a rim, and the other was a pass off the board, and Abbie made a great play there to put it in the net. Even the goal hit one of their guys and Homer did a great job in front. So, Wednesday night might be someone else.”OZZIE ACTIVATED:
The Red Wings activated veteran goalie Chris Osgood from injured reserve. He has missed 27 games since undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia.
“I’m as close as I can get now,” said Osgood, of returning to game action. “I feel real good. I don’t know when I will play, but keep practicing hard and be ready. My goal is to be ready for the playoffs and get my games in.”
Following Monday’s practice at JLA, coach Mike Babcock indicated that Osgood and defenseman Brian Rafalski (lower back) are available to return to the line-up. But the coach would not say whether one or both of his veterans will play this week.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Osgood, when asked when he might play. “I don’t have a number at all. I have to play, I’m ready to play.”
Forward Patrick Eaves
(sprained knee) skated with the Wings again on Monday, but remains day-to-day.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m getting the conditioning back up there and getting to the pace.”