Heading Into the All-Star Break
The Detroit Red Wings have won five in a row and eight of their past 10, losing only to the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks. During those five games, they have tallied 22 goals and only allowed 13. A large part of their winning ways have come from off the back of Captain Henrik Zetterberg (4 G, 4 A over last two games) and Gustav Nyquist (4 G, 6A over last seven games).
Playing alongside gritty forward, Justin Abdelkader, Hank and Gus have provided the points while he has provided the forechecking and puck possession. Abdelkader, 27, has had a career year offensively (11 G, 26 Pts. through 40 GP) registering season highs in goals and points already.
No. 1 defenseman, Niklas Kronwall has a three game, four-assist, streak going and has been the backend support for Detroit this season, much the same since Nicklas Lidstrom retired.
The Magic Man, Pavel Datsyuk, has recorded 35 points in 36 games this season and continues his dominant two-way play while shouldering off the vulnerability at the age of 37. Datsyuk, who missed more than half of last season due to knee, head and shoulder injuries, has been healthy of late a been a force on the ice with rotating line mates of Abdelkader, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Johan Franzen and Zetterberg.
Within an hour of being named the only Red Wing to the 2015 All-Star Game, goaltender Jimmy Howard suffered a slight tear in his left groin after giving the puck away behind his net and attempting a desperation save.
Howard, who was diagnosed to miss 2-4 weeks, expects to practice Monday, though he has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers.
In his absence and with backup Jonas Gustavsson still nursing a separated shoulder suffered in November, AHL goaltender Petr Mrazek has faired well by getting the W four of the last five games for Detroit. After giving up three quick goals to the lowly Buffalo Sabres, Mrazek was pulled and coach Mike Babcock opted to give Thomas McCollum his first piece of NHL action and he recorded the win during Detroit’s 6-4 comeback lead by Zetterberg with a third period hat trick.
Looking to Stay Hot
The Wings will look to continue their surging play when they take on the Panthers at the BB&T Center in Florida on Tuesday, Jan. 27th. The Panthers, led by All-Star picks goaltender Roberto Luongo and rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, have dropped four in a row heading into their break and sit seven points behind Boston for the fourth spot in the division standings.
Ekblad, was taken with the first-overall pick in the 2014 Entry Draft and made the leap to the NHL immediately. The rookie has scored six goals and added 19 assists to give him 25 points on the season and on pace to score the most points by a rookie defenseman second only to the great Bobby Orr.
Luongo, who was traded back to the Panthers after spending the last several seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, appears to have found new life with his old team and has carried the youngest team (by average) in the NHL to a sight many of their members have never seen before: playoff contention.