Detroit barely made the playoffs in 2013-14 and was promptly dismissed by the Boston Bruins in the first round. In terms of points percentage, it was the team’s worse season since Mike Babcock became the head coach and yet he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. The reason for that isn’t hard to decipher.
The Red Wings had to overcome a lot just to get to the postseason. They set a franchise record with 421 man games lost due to injuries and it wasn’t just a question of the quantity of the injuries. Detroit’s top two players, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were each limited to 45 contests.
Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, forward Johan Franzen, and free agent acquisition Stephen Weiss are just a few of the other players that spent a portion of the season on the sidelines.
Given all of that, were the Red Wings truly a merely average team last season as their record would suggest or were they a good squad that was simply unlucky? Injuries are part of the game and it’s assumed that every team will deal with some hardship over the course of the 82-game season, but when the amount of time players have spent on the sidelines becomes record-breaking, it’s hard to just dismiss it as business as usual.
At the same time, an argument can be made that the Red Wings were fortunate in other regards. Gustav Nyquist stepped up with an impressive 28 goals and 48 points in 57 games. It’s too early to know if he can replicate those results, but it certainly seems like he got hot at the right time.
This isn’t an entirely academic question. Whether or not Detroit was unlucky last season doesn’t change the result, but keep in mind that they’ll be entering the campaign with roughly the same roster. If you buy into the argument that Detroit underperformed in 2013-14, then it’s not unreasonable to make the leap that they are a serious candidate to do meaningfully better in 2014-15.
Later in the evening, there was a report from Darren Dreger of TSN that the Senators are protesting the Kings’ third goal of the game, which came with two seconds left in the second period. It was a pivotal moment in the game, as L.A. took a two-goal lead into the third period, before eventually winning 4-1.
Clock slow to start beginning of 2nd in LA. 6 second delay. Adjustment made, but not enough. Kings scored end of period with 2 sec left…
“I’ll be honest with you, at that point for us we’ve just got to shut it down. We keep it at 1, it wasn’t about getting a goal there it was about getting off the ice. We had done the job in the second period, we had looked very good, we had the momentum, we needed to get into the third period with a one-goal lead. We’ve done it so many times this year coming back so I was confident we could come back, so no. I’m not looking at clocks, I’m not looking at penalties, I’m looking at ourselves just doing better.
The Kings now begin a stretch of nine games away from home. They play seven of those games before the holiday break, before resuming the trip on Dec. 28 versus the Canucks. The trip ends the following night in Edmonton.
Video: Unlikely combatants Kucherov and Daley drop the gloves
Those are sentiments you probably won’t be hearing from the Colorado Avalanche later on Saturday evening. Yes, they did get their captain back in the lineup from injury. Yes, Iginla was playing in the milestone 1,500th game of his NHL career — certainly an impressive feat in a day when the game is getting younger and getting quicker.
But then, the puck dropped and it all went down the drain for the Avalanche in the opening period. Actually, the opening 10 minutes. Facing the Montreal Canadiens, the Avs found themselves down 5-0 by the 8:41 mark. Of the first period.
Calvin Pickard got the start in net for Colorado, but he was pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots. Semyon Varlamov entered the game and quickly allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced.
The incident occurred less than three minutes into the game.
Borowiecki was given a major penalty for boarding. He received another major, this time for fighting, later in the period after him and Matt Greene dropped the gloves. Now the question becomes: Will Borowiecki face supplemental discipline?
Toffoli missed the remainder of the first period, but returned for the second.