DETROIT – The Red Wings have lost just five games in regulation, the fewest among Eastern Conference teams in the first quarter of the season. But Detroit also leads the league in overtime and shootout losses with seven through 21 games.
While those seven “pity” points aren’t the objective, they have provided the Red Wings with some buoyancy in the Atlantic Division standings. However, the six-game winless streak – and the seven-game home skid – has become a strain in the Wings’ locker room.
“It’s been tough here for us but it’s not like something’s miraculously going to happen for us to get out of this,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “It’s going to take hard work and the right attitude.”
The Wings are the first NHL club to play in five straight overtime games since the Edmonton Oilers played in seven consecutive in 2003-04. The five games also matches the Wings’ franchise-high for consecutive OT games established in 1996-97 when they posted a 2-1-2 mark.
On the bright side, it seems the Red Wings have found the secondary scoring that’s eluded them this season. Dependent on Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to carry most of the offensive load, other Red Wings have found the back of the net in the last two games. Johan Franzen has three goals and Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser have also gotten into the act.
But the Wings need to win in regulation, something they haven’t done in more than two weeks. And Tuesday, the Wings have a shot at ending the skid, and winning their first game at Joe Louis Arena in five weeks, when they host the Nashville Predators.
This week’s foes – Nashville, Carolina, Ottawa and Buffalo – all have five-or-more fewer points than the Red Wings. But more importantly, the Wings will look to put the brakes on two skids, especially at home where they haven’t gone eight straight without a win in 27 years.
With that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:
TUESDAY – vs. NASHVILLE (9-9-2):
Defense - NSH
Goals: 5 | Assists: 5 | Pts: 10
Shots: 39 | +/-: -8
Saturday’s 7-2 win over the Blackhawks – which came in the Predators' first home game following a seven-game, 17-day road trip – snapped a four-game losing streak for Nashville. With No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne out indefinitely with an infected hip, the Predators need a steadying force in goal. Coach Barry Trotz said he thought the offense Saturday was a result of solid defense. If Marek Mazanec can do the job, maybe he could be the lift the Predators need. The Wings and Predators are among six NHL clubs without a shootout victory this season. Making matters worse for the Preds (0-2), six different shooters have combined to go 0-for-8, including Matt Cullen and Craig Smith, who are 0-for-2 each. … Grosse Pointe Woods native David Legwand has 10 points, including three goals, in his last eight games, and has a team-best 17 points in 19 games this season. Legwand has produced 11 points (four goals, seven assists) away from Bridgestone Arena.
PLAYER TO WATCH: All-Star defenseman Shea Weber has led Nashville in ice time in 12 of the last 14 games to rank sixth in the league in the category (26:25). Weber’s five Goals are tied for second among NHL defensemen. The Preds are 5-0-0 when their captain finds the back of the net. With a goal and an assist in Saturday’s win, he became the fourth player in franchise history to post 300 points with the team joining center David Legwand, winger Martin Erat and defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Weber’s next point will make him the highest-scoring defenseman in club history. In 45 career games against the Wings, Weber has produced nine goals and 13 assists with a plus-7 rating. But only eight of those 22 points have come at Joe Louis Arena, where he is a minus-1 in 22 games.
THURSDAY – vs. CAROLINA (8-8-4):
Center - CAR
Goals: 5 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 11
Shots: 65 | +/-: -10
It’s possible that No. 1 goalie Cam Ward returns this week from a lower-body injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Oct. 24. But with the way the Red Wings have treated the nine-year veteran, he might want to sit this one out. Ward is 1-4-1 with a 2.99 goals-against average. Backup Anton Khudobin (ankle) is also listed as day-to-day, but with third-straighter Justin Peters the Hurricanes have earned points in five of the last six games. The former 2004 draft pick is on a hot streak with a 4-1-1 record, 1.46 GAA and .949 save percentage. … The Hurricanes got shorthanded goals from Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe in the second period of Saturday’s 4-2 loss at St. Louis. Peters stopped 28 shots and lost in regulation for the first time in six games. … The Canes are tied with Anaheim for the most one-goal wins in the NHL, and are one of five teams – with Detroit, Nashville, Phoenix and St. Louis – without a one-goal regulation loss. The Hurricanes lead the NHL in takeaways (210) by a large margin, and are one of just six teams with 150 or more, including the Red Wings (165). The Red Wings have recorded 183 giveaways which is tied for seventh most in the NHL this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Center Eric Staal has been one of the league’s elite power forwards, but the four-time All-Star is off to a slow start producing 11 points with a minus-10 rating in 20 games this season. His power-play goal in the second period in last Friday’s win was the Hurricanes’ first PPG in five games, which is the team’s longest drought of the season. Last week, Staal passed Kevin Dineen for third place on the franchise’s all-time games-played list. Staal has played in 710 games with the Canes, only defenseman Glen Wesley (913) and hall-of-fame center Ron Francis (1,186) have played in more games with the franchise.
SATURDAY – vs. OTTAWA (8-8-4):
Right Wing - OTT
Goals: 10 | Assists: 10 | Pts: 20
Shots: 56 | +/-: 10
The Senators are undefeated in regulation against their Atlantic Division rivals going 5-0-1 this season, including a 6-1 thrashing of the Red Wings on Oct. 23. Ottawa is scheduled to play back-to-back games on 16 occasions this season and will open its fourth such set when they visit Detroit Saturday and Carolina the following night. … The Senators have registered a record of 4-3-2 through nine road contests this season. Jason Spezza leads the team with six road goals and Kyle Turris owns a club-best eight assists away from Canadian Tire Centre in 2013-14. Spezza and Turris share the team-lead with 10 points on the road. … Backup goalie Robin Lehner was recognized as the NHL's First Star of the Week (week ending Nov. 10). He posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.33 goals-against average and .958 save percentage, stopping 91 of 95 shots to help the Senators win all three of their games last week while extending the club's season-long point streak to five straight contests (3-0-2).
PLAYER TO WATCH: As expected, winger Bobby Ryan has been an outstanding addition to the Senators’ offense working on the top line with Turris and winger Clarke MacArthur. Acquired from Anaheim after the Senators lost longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson in free agency, Ryan has produced six multi-points games this season, and he has 11 points in his last eight games. He leads Ottawa with 10 goals and 10 assists through 19 games. Ryan played Sunday after a scare Friday when it was thought that he may have sustained a concussion courtesy of an elbow to the head from Boston's Dennis Seidenberg.
SUNDAY – at BUFFALO (5-16-1):
LEFT Wing - BUF
Goals: 8 | Assists: 10 | Pts: 18
Shots: 44 | +/-: 1
A team in turmoil, the Sabres last week fired their general manager and head coach, and named Ted Nolan
interim head coach while appointing Michigan native and hall of famer Pat LaFontaine to search for a new GM. Nolan joins Scotty Bowman as the second head coach to reprise his role with the Sabres in the franchise’s 43-year history. Since last Wednesday’s moves, the Sabres split a home-and-home series with Toronto. … According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Sabres are the first team to dress four teenagers – Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov – in a single game since March 30, 1996, when Winnipeg dressed four 19-year-olds in a 5-2 loss to Detroit.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Since joining the Sabres in a trade with the New York Islanders, Matt Moulson has registered eight points in eight games, all coming in two-point increments. The veteran left winger has six multi-point games this season, which is tied for fourth in the league, trailing only Corey Perry (eight) and Kyle Okposo/Martin St. Louis (seven). Moulson recorded four of these in his eight games with the Sabres. He is also tied with Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan for 10th among active NHL players with 120 goals since the beginning of the 2009-10 season. The North York, Ontario, native seems to enjoy playing against the Red Wings. In five career games against Detroit, Moulson has produced four goals on 11 shots.
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