The Detroit Red Wings left North America Sunday to fly all the way to Sweden. There they will play a pair of regular season games against their division rivals the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Entering into today’s game the Red Wings are 3-4-1 since their inspiring five-game win streak. The Red Wings are looking to get things going in that direction again. As they eye their first post-season debut since 2016.
Keys for the Series
Top Line/ Offensive Duo
If the Red Wings want to capture some of that magic again, it will come from the Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Larkin duo and their first line. Since their five-game win streak ended the duo has earned nine points in nine games played. The top line as a whole has 15 points in the same time frame. A far cry from the 21 points DeBrincat and Larkin had in the five-game win streak. Or the 26 total points that the top line had. Over the previous nine games, Lucas Raymond, Debrincat, and Larkin have still been the Red Wings best line. They still have another gear or two they need to find if the Detroit Red Wings want to start securing wins like before.
Defence and Goaltending Woes
As a team, the Red Wings offence is one of the best in the league. The defence unfortunately is moderate, right now sitting at 15th in GA per game and tenth in xGA. Not to mention team goaltending currently maintains a .900 save percentage. This is being kept afloat by the backup James Reimer who owns a .933 save percentage in his five games played. Both Ottawa and Toronto have potent offences that can beat the Red Wings alone if their defence shows up playing sloppily.
James Reimer will be the starter on Thursday against Ottawa. Depending on how well he does, he could earn the start for Friday with Ville Husso back in Detroit. There is also a very likely chance Red Wings fans could finally see the Red Wings third goaltender Alex Lyon get some NHL time. Lyon helped the Florida Panthers down the stretch to get them into the playoffs. With Husso struggling early in the season, Lyon could find himself in a similar situation in his new home.
Detroit vs. the Ottawa Senators
For Red Wings fans and players this is the big game in Sweden. Ottawa was the team that put the final dagger in Red Wings playoff aspirations last season. They manhandled the Red Wings in back-to-back games on the score sheet and physically. Both teams missed the playoffs but were earmarked to make a run at a wild-card spot in 2023-24. This last offseason the Detroit Red Wings made a trade with the Ottawa Senators to get Alex DeBrincat. He wanted out of the Senators organization only a year after the Senators went big in a trade to get him. This will be an emotional game. Even without the history, these two teams are rebuilding and are looking to take the next step. And both are in each other’s way.
If the Detroit Red Wings want to have a successful Global Series, winning against the Ottawa Senators will be their top priority. Toronto is supposed to be a major playoff performer, a loss there won’t hurt team morale as much as losing to a team that is supposed to be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Right now, the Ottawa Senators are at the bottom of the division. Detroit wants to make sure they stay there.
Detroit vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a weird position. They are almost a quarter of the way through the season and they are tied with the Detroit Red Wings. With four of the best and most expensive forwards in the NHL along with a great supporting cast, there isn’t much of a reason they shouldn’t be in Boston’s position. A big glare so far has been their divisional record. Against outer divisional opponents, Toronto has a 5-2-1 record. Against inner divisional rivals, they are 3-3-1. Winning against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday will at least tie or put them ahead of the Red Wings in the standings with a game in hand.
For the Detroit Red Wings beating or at least taking them to overtime should be their goal. The Maple Leafs should be considered a playoff team in the Red Wings eyes. If they want to be a playoff team too they need to show they can play with playoff teams. If the Red Wings can pull out a victory it will be a tremendous boost to team morale. Pushing them two points ahead of the Maple Leafs and keeping other Atlantic Division teams away from overtaking them in the standings. This also helps them come February and March as the playoff picture winds down towards the end of the season and every point starts to matter.
Main Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports