Tag: Jonas Gustavsson


NHL on NBCSN: Avs try to build off hot streak, challenge Red Wings


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Colorado Avalanche host the Detroit Red Wings at Pepsi Center at 9:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

You don’t need to look any further than Colorado’s 22-18-11 record to know that this season has been a disappointment for the defending Central Division titleholders. The fact that their struggles are adding fuel to the analytics-driven argument that the Avalanche overperformed last season has to be particularly stringing given that they haven’t been regarded as the biggest fans of fancy stats.

The Avalanche haven’t lost hope though, nor should they after their dramatic 11-round shootout win in a key game against Dallas on Tuesday.

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“That’s the way we were last year. I hate to bring last year back, but this is something we were doing really well,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy told the team’s website. “We never gave up, and we were very resilient. I think that’s what we did tonight.”

The Avalanche have now earned at least a point in four straight contests to put them just four points behind in the battle for a Wild Card spot. If they can stay sharp, then there’s more than enough time left to close that relatively small gap.

They have plenty of serious tests ahead of them though and the first will be against Detroit tonight. Even with starting goaltender Jimmy Howard and backup Jonas Gustavsson being simultaneously unavailable for roughly a month, Detroit has been one of the hottest teams in the league with a 8-2-0 record since Howard’s last game. That’s propelled the Red Wings into a tight race for the Eastern Conference lead.

Detroit is only getting more dangerous too as Gustavsson rejoined the team on Wednesday and Howard might be back within a week. At this point, the Red Wings have to be seen as the favorites going into tonight’s game; a reversal from the situation a year ago.

Speaking of last year, the Red Wings know a thing or two about being a team trying to stage a comeback after an underwhelming first half of the season and how dangerous that kind of squad can be. They realize the Avalanche can’t be overlooked.

Howard resumes practicing, could play next week


Jimmy Howard hasn’t played since Jan. 10 because of a torn groin muscle, but on Tuesday the Red Wings goaltender took a big step forward by participating in Detroit’s practice. He still won’t be available on Thursday against Colorado or Saturday versus Arizona, but if all goes well he’ll return for Detroit’s game against Pittsburgh on Feb. 11.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” said Howard, per the team’s website. “At first we had Phoenix circled but we thought (that) would probably be just rushing it a little too much and Pitt will allow me a couple more practices to push it.”

With Jonas Gustavsson also sidelined, Detroit has been forced to lean heavily on 22-year-old netminder Petr Mrazek. He’s been something of a mixed bag, but Detroit has nevertheless rallied in Howard’s absence, winning six of its last seven contests. Howard’s return could help solidify the Red Wings’ recent gains as the goaltender has a superb 2.11 GAA and .920 save percentage in 32 games this season.

Going into Tuesday’s action, the Red Wings are just one point shy of the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

Red Wings’ youth shines vs. Isles for ninth win in 11 games

Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Hickey, Matt Martin, Justin Abdelkader

If the New York Islanders can be regarded as genuine Stanley Cup contenders this season, then is the same true of the Red Wings? Detroit has certainly looked like a serious threat lately with nine victories in its last 11 contests, including a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders this afternoon.

In a year that was supposed to be an extension of the Red Wings’ efforts to rebuild on the fly, Detroit’s youngsters appropriately led the charge against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar, and Gustav Nyquist each found the back of the net. All three are 25 years old or younger and the latter are the first two Red Wings to reach the 20-goal milestone this season.

Of course, for some players, you’re considered a veteran at the age of 25, but Detroit’s 23-season playoffs streak has prevented them from drafting the super prospects that you sometimes see make the jump from the juniors to NHL with little to no AHL experience. Instead, the Red Wings have focused on slowly developing its players in the minors before gradually being eased into regular roles in the NHL. That approach has paid off as Detroit passes the baton from one generation to the next without enduring a single disastrous season along the way.

One exception to that method is goaltender Petr Mrazek, 22, who has been thrust into service ahead of schedule due to injuries. Lately Detroit has been missing both starting goalie Jimmy Howard and backup Jonas Gustavsson, but what had the potential to be a crippling setback hasn’t slowed the Red Wings. That hasn’t always been thanks to Mrazek, but he certainly did his part today, stopping 21 of 22 shots.

By contrast, Islanders backup goaltender, Chad Johnson, hasn’t been effective this season. Johnson surrendered four goals on just 19 shots against Detroit, making this the sixth time in seven starts that he’s allowed at least three goals.

With a 29-12-9, Detroit has moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with 67 points. The Red Wings are tied with Montreal in terms of points, but the Canadiens have played in two fewer contests. The Islanders are now stuck in fourth place, but are just two points shy in the tight race. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has 66 points ahead of its game against Columbus tonight.