Tag: schedule analysis


Red Wings squeeze by Ducks on historic night


Win or lose, Friday night was bound to be heavy on history for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom reached their milestones for games played, as the polarizing winger hit Game No. 1,000 while Lidstrom tied Alex Delvecchio for second place in Red Wings history with 1,549.

Those individual milestones were cleared on each players’ first shift, but the team’s other brush with history wasn’t settled until Joey MacDonald stopped Bobby Ryan’s shootout attempt. Detroit inched one win closer to tying the NHL’s all-time record for consecutive wins (20)* with their 19th by barely squeezing by the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 (SO).

The Red Wings have needed extra time to keep the streak alive quite a bit lately. Four of their last seven home wins have come after regulation, with three being determined by a shootout.

More on the 19-game streak

Some purists might try to poke holes in Detroit’s run based on those facts if they get to (or beyond) 20 straight wins at Joe Louis Arena, but it’s an impressive run nonetheless. NHL Network provides some interesting stats from the 19-game streak:

Goals for: 79
Goals against: 27
Power play percentage: 20
Penalty kill percentage: 82.4

You can watch the Red Wings try to match the 20-win record on NBC Sports Network as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET. If Detroit wins that, a Tuesday night game against the Dallas Stars would be all that stands in the Detroit’s way from becoming the sole leader in that impressive record.

Looking beyond the pursuit of the record

Shifting from historical impacts to a shorter-term view of the season, the Red Wings have four consecutive home games, six of seven and eight of their next 10 at Joe Louis Arena going forward. If the Red Wings stays hot in Detroit, the team could build a truly formidable lead in the Central Division and the Western Conference as a whole.

* The 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers share that record.

Evaluating Buffalo’s slim playoff chances

Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders

The Buffalo Sabres absolutely throttled the Boston Bruins last night, but as entertaining as the rivalry has become, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll see each other in the playoffs.

Still, the 6-0 win likely stirred that thought in some of us, so how about we break down Buffalo’s chances in a variety of ways?

The odds

Going by Sports Club Stats’ numbers, the Sabres are teetering on the edge of playoff irrelevance. The well-respected resource gives Buffalo just a 3.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, ranking them second-to-last in the East.

What they’ll need to do to beat those odds

According to Sports Club’s numbers, Buffalo will probably need a record of 18-8-3 (64.9 percent chance to make it), 18-7-4 (80.3 percent chance) or better for a good chance to play beyond 82 games. So the question is: can they earn 39-40 points in those 29 games?


Schedules can often make or break these situations. Buffalo plays seven of its next eight games at home, including matches against fellow East contenders. Getting regulation wins in that span would improve their outlook, but surviving a flip-side stretch of seven of eight road games will be just as crucial.

Overall, the Sabres will play one more road game (15) than home contest (14), but the other big factor is that they have five back-to-back sets left. Looking at those numbers, one would say that Buffalo’s schedule is a wash – at best.


The most obvious plus is Ryan Miller’s recent play. Much like his team, Miller is 4-0-1 in his last five games. Miller has allowed just five goals in those five games – including a shutout in a shootout loss.

On paper, Buffalo might be the most talented bubble team aside from the Tampa Bay Lightning, which could play out on the ice even if it hasn’t so far. Spending money to improve that situation could be key, too. Terry Pegula’s deep pockets could swing things against lower-budget teams like the Panthers and Islanders, if it comes down to a trade deadline deal.

(If he hasn’t soured on putting up big bucks after Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff’s disappointments, that is.)


Buffalo made an impressive late run to the playoffs last season, but I’d say they hit the “snooze” button one too many times on this wake-up call. What do you think, though?


* – You can break down the East bubble teams into three different groups. (Note: ranks based on Sports Club’s numbers, not on current standings.)

Teams expected to make it
6) Toronto – 86 percent
7) Washington – 79.2 percent
8) Florida – 67 percent

Half-decent contenders
9) Ottawa – 40.1 percent
10) Winnipeg – 16.4 percent

Long shots
11) Montreal – 8.2 percent
12) Islanders – 5.4 percent
13) Tampa Bay – 5.3 percent
14) Buffalo – 3.2 percent

Red Wings home streak beats Sam Gagner’s great run

Edmonton Oilers v Detroit Red Wings

Tonight’s Edmonton Oilers-Detroit Red Wings game helped the hockey world find one force hotter than Sam Gagner right now: the Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit beat the Oilers (or some might say, the Edmonton Gagners) 4-2 for its 18th consecutive home win. It’s pretty tough not to gravitate toward Gagner’s contribution, however, as he scored both Oilers goals, including this breakaway beauty:

It’s still a small sample size, but Gagner’s doing his best to show that his sensational eight-point night was the start of something special rather than a fluke. He now has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in a jaw-dropping five-game span.

If Gagner regresses, at least he can look back and say that he made the most of his hot streak.

Record-breaking Red Wings

Speaking of lofty runs, the Red Wings already broke their own franchise record for consecutive home wins, but now the NHL’s all-time record of 20 is within their reach. (The Boston Bruins [1929-30] and 1976 Philadelphia Flyers share that record, according to The Associated Press.) In case you’re wondering, here are Detroit’s next three home games:

vs. Anaheim Ducks (Friday, Feb. 10)
vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Sunday, Feb. 12)
vs. Dallas Stars (Tuesday, Feb. 14)

In fact, the Red Wings’ next five games are at Joe Louis Arena and nine of their next 11 are at home overall. That might be the kind of run that makes history and helps them build a sizable lead in the Central Division in the process.

Watch full highlights of the Oilers-Red Wings game below.

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Coyotes stay in the mix by beating Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes

The Detroit Red Wings have lost both games with Jimmy Howard on the shelf so far, but it’s tough to beat up on Joey MacDonald on Monday. The borderline NHL goalie only allowed two goals as the Phoenix Coyotes edged the Red Wings 3-1.

(The Yotes sealed the deal with an empty-netter, in case you were wondering about my math.)

Phoenix seemingly caught Detroit sleeping in the first period as Boyd Gordon’s captivating shorthanded goal made it 1-0. Martin Hanzal scored a power-play goal to make it 2-0, so by the time the Red Wings started to control play, it might have been too late.

At least it was too late because of Mike Smith, who stopped 30 out of 31 shots. He was particularly strong in the last 40 minutes of the game as the Red Wings fired 25 shots on him but could only find the net once on a man advantage.

Big games ahead for Phoenix

source: Getty ImagesIt’s easy to focus on some of the Red Wings’ problems, but with an NHL leading 72 points, Detroit clearly had less at stake. The Coyotes are now tied with the Dallas Stars for ninth place with 56 points although their divisional rivals hold the wins advantage (27 to Phoenix’s 24) and have played two fewer games. The Coyotes could hop over them if they can top the Stars in Dallas, though, but it won’t be easy because that game takes place tomorrow.

That’s just the beginning of some challenging and important games for the bubble team, though. The Calgary Flames aren’t far behind them with 54 points in 52 games, so that Thursday matchup is almost as important as the Stars game.

Things get awfully challenging after that as they face the Vancouver Canucks and then have another game against Dallas (Feb. 18) sandwiched between two games against the Los Angeles Kings.

Life won’t get much easier with a handful of games against Western Canadian teams, but the bottom line is that the Coyotes are still in the mix and their frugal No. 1 goalie seems to be getting his act together.

(Not enough to make the Red Wings jealous yet, though.)

Check out highlights of the game below:

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How Blackhawks reacted last time Oilers blew them out

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No doubt about it, Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner is the talk of the hockey world after scoring a whopping eight points in one game. Still, for every historic producer, there must be a victim – and the Chicago Blackhawks played that role on Thursday.

Gagner and the Oil beat them 8-4 last night, but this wasn’t the first time Edmonton handed the Blackhawks a one-sided loss in 2011-12. The Oilers finished 3-1-0 in the season series, but the most notable other beating came when Edmonton topped Chicago 9-2 on Nov. 19.

To Chicago’s credit, the team went on a tear in the next 13 games.

The ‘Hawks started that run by losing 1-0 to the San Jose Sharks, but only after pouring 34 shots on a locked-in Antti Niemi. From that point, the Blackhawks went 11-2-1. It was a great way to close out 2011, but they’ve been a little shaky in the New Year (5-8-2 in 15 contests).

Surely it’s an embarrassing output for a franchise that won the Stanley Cup in 2010, but perhaps Joel Quenneville can transform that negative energy into a red-hot run – again.

If nothing else, they should be glad that it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll face the Oilers again until next season.