With only 34 points in their first 34 games the Detroit Red Wings are in danger of having their run of consecutive playoff appearances come to an end this season.
When they return to action following the holiday break on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres, they will be six points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Even though there are still 48 games remaining on their schedule, that is still a significant gap to close at this point in the season, especially when you consider they still have to jump over four other teams in the Atlantic Division to get one of those three spots (they are even further back in the Wild Card race, trailing the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers by 10 points).
Making things even more difficult for the Red Wings at this point: Injuries. A lot of them. The list of injured Red Wings at this point is a lengthy one and includes Mike Green, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Brendan Smith, Alexey Marchenko and starting goaltender Jimmy Howard.
When it comes to Helm, Green, Abdelkader, and Marchenko, general manager Ken Holland said on Monday (via Ansar Khan of Mlive.com) that none of those three are expected to return to the lineup this week, which means they will each miss at least three more games.
Helm has already missed 17 games due to a dislocated shoulder, while Abdelkader has been out since Dec. 1 with a knee injury. Marchenko has not played since Dec. 13 due to a shoulder injury.
Green’s absence is a significant one because he had been having a nice bounce back season for the Red Wings before he was injured by a Ryan Kesler hit late in their game back on Dec. 17. Immediately after the game the Red Wings were optimistic that it was not a significant injury, with Holland initially calling him “day-to-day.”
He has not played since and has already missed two games.