It is almost Christmas time, so the Red Wings schedule in December will be one to watch for. The Detroit Red Wings played the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday their first of four games between the two. They beat the Sabres 5-3 giving them a 14-7-3 record through 24 games this season. Currently, Dylan Larkin leads the team in assists, Alex DeBrincat leads the team in goals and both share the team lead in points. The team sits sit third in their division with a game in hand over the Florida Panthers.
This is the Red Wings second game in December, their first was an overtime winner against the Montreal Canadiens last Saturday. With 13 games left to play in the month, it is set to be a busy and important one for the Red Wings. Lots of winnable hockey games and a couple of tough opponents in there as well.
December is Important for the Red Wings
Right now the Red Wings have won 6 of their last 7 games with Alex Lyons starting in 4 of those wins. The Red Wings should feel confident, but not too confident. This is one of the best starts the Red Wings have had to a season in a long time. Last season was similar they had a record of 12-7-5 through their first 24 games of the season. This is important because December is where their great start fell off the train tracks last season.
They went 5-7-1 in December last season and we saw the Red Wings’ hopes of making the playoffs start to disappear. Steve Yzerman, Derek Lalonde, and Larkin know remember this and know if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive and not fall short like they did last season. The team will need to show up all month and keep proving they are a playoff team.
Detroit’s Schedule this Month
In the month of December, the Detroit Red Wings will play 15 total games. Six of those games will be against opponents that made the playoffs last season and nine against teams that didn’t qualify. So far this season against teams that did make the playoffs last season they are 5-7-1. It’s not a great record, but that’s why they made the playoffs they are tough teams to beat. However, against teams that did not qualify for the playoffs last season, they are undefeated in regulation going 9-0-2 in those 11 games.
If the Red Wings are able to keep up that level of play they will be looking at a similar record to 23-10-6 through 39 games. That would be a few games short of the halfway mark of the season with 52 points in hand. Right now the Red Wings have one of the most potent offences and that has been winning games for them. They sit third in the league in GF/PG, but advanced stats could show that start to dry up since they also have one of the worst xGF in the league. They are finishing the chances they are getting but need to do a better job at creating chances.
This season we come to the same juncture. There are lots of winnable games it’s a great chance to stack up points and more importantly not falter like they did a season ago. A big help that will hopefully keep this great start going is the new addition of Patrick Kane. He signed a contract last week and Head Coach Lalonde has confirmed he will play Tonight against the San Jose Sharks. He is one of the best American players in NHL history, a powerplay guy with an amazingly high hockey IQ, not known for his defensive gifts. Still pushing a strong offense to be even better and can hopefully create more chances for the Red Wings. Hopefully, it will allow the Red Wings to keep consistent offensive pressure on opponents all game. This will help their xGF% which sits in the bottom half of the league.
He is coming off of a big injury. Few players come back to full form after a hip resurfacing surgery, but reports have been very good for the veteran. Also, his high hockey won’t be affected by the injury as much as his body. Playing Kane together with DeBrincat who he’s played with in Chicago and had a lot of chemistry should spark a dangerous second line that can take the pressure off Larkin’s top line.
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