With key players including Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the mend for what could be the rest of the stretch run, the Detroit Red Wings will go as far as lesser known players such as Gustav Nyquist will take them.
He took them far enough to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Tuesday, and almost as importantly, he helped Detroit do so in regulation.
That’s not to say that the Red Wings are running on the energy of players anonymous to casual fans alone; Jimmy Howard played a strong game by stopping 31 out of 33 shots while Daniel Alfredsson notched the game-winner. Still, the Red Wings’ staggering playoff streak may come down to guys who would normally play a far smaller role.
(Some might see it as a blessing in disguise for a team heavy on veterans, but those claims may be fainter if Detroit misses the playoffs.)
It doesn’t hurt Detroit’s odds that teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators lost tonight, either.
From Toronto’s perspective, they’ve now lost two in a row and fall below .500 on the road (14-15-7 in that regard). They have 80 points in 70 games played, leaving them vulnerable against Detroit and other bubble teams.
The Maple Leafs probably want Jonathan Bernier back as soon as possible; bad luck or not, James Reimer now only has one win in his last seven appearances (1-4-0 with two non-decisions).