If you just look at the score, you’d think it was a relatively easy 3-0 win for the Detroit Red Wings, but the Colorado Avalanche pushed them a lot more than that.
Patrick Roy’s polarizing decision to pull Semyon Varlamov with about three minutes left backfired on Thursday night. The aggressive move inflated the Red Wings’ lead as they scored two goals into an empty net.
Really, the true difference was Justin Abdelkader’s power-play goal and the stellar work of Red Wings interim starter Petr Mrazek, who pitched a 28-save shutout.
Gabriel Landeskog’s would-be 1-0 goal was waved off in the first period:
(It turns out Patrick Roy was OK with the call, after all.)
Mrazek made a strong argument that he deserves to continue to get reps as Detroit’s other goalies get healthier.
Whether you look at the Red Wings when Jimmy Howard was dominant or when Mrazek was thrust into the net, they’ve been on fire since late December.
More recently, they’ve won two in a row and and eight of their last nine. Stretching back to Dec. 23, the Red Wings are 13-4-0.
About the only bit of bad news is that the road ahead seems challenging, with an emphasis on the word road; they play eight of their next 10 games away from Joe Louis Arena.
Granted, that’s certainly an easier situation to stomach than that of Colorado, a team that wasted another strong performance from Varlamov. The Avalanche have now gone seven straight games without a power-play tally while allowing at least one in six straight games. Every pointless contest hurts a team that’s still casing Vancouver and Winnipeg for one of the two West wild card spots.
Again, this game was a lot closer than it seems, but the NHL is a league of small margins. Detroit has been doing a great job of turning those small breaks in its favor while Colorado struggles to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.