The Detroit Red Wings carved out a 5-4 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, leaving them tied points-wise with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth playoff spot in the East as of tonight. The Red Wings fought back from a 2-0 deficit, showing that they’re not going to be an easy out even with injuries and other challenges serving as potential obstacles.
– Can Detroit hold off the handful of up-and-down East bubble teams and make it to the postseason? Considering the Red Wings’ injuries, would a healthy Detroit team be a potential playoff upset threat? (Obviously looking months ahead, mind you …)
– The Red Wings have now won just three of 10 shootouts and notched their eighth home win of the season. Despite those struggles, they’re in the mix.
– Inevitable question time: are the Red Wings better off with Jonas Gustavsson instead of Jimmy Howard, or is that more of a “small sample size” thing? What about the American Olympic team?
– The Red Wings are attempting to make the most of what could be a lucrative stretch of games scheduling-wise. They won two of three games in Detroit so far in a five-game homestand.
– Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are kicking off a challenging run after finishing up a home-heavy stretch. They play in Minnesota on Thursday, get one home game against Winnipeg and then the ‘Hawks finish off their pre-Olympic break schedule with six straight road contests. Then a huge chunk of their team flies to Sochi. Yikes.
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.
John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.
Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.
Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?
For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting upJohn Tavares.
The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.
Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.