The Red Wings dominated the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Thursday night beating them 4-1 and ending the 4-game losing streak. Before the skid started at the hands of the Washington Capitals last week the Red Wings sat just a couple points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the last Wild Card playoff slot in the Eastern Conference.
A couple nice tip-ins with traffic in front of the net set the Red Wings up nicely as Johnathon Bernier made 38 of 39 saves between the pipes to secure a well fought victory. Jimmy Howard was officially back from injury tonight but with Bernier playing like this it’s unclear how much time the two tenders will split. I’ve always been a Howard-fanatic but you have to play the hot hand. He made some insane and timely saves to hold the Red Wings lead as they fought for insurance.
When the team started the season winless in their first seven games of the season it felt like a guarantee that the Red Wings would be on the golf course while 16 other teams battled for the Stanley Cup. Some people were calling for the team to tank and for head coach Jeff Blashill be put in prison. But the young Red Wings team led by future captain Dylan Larkin (evidence A, evidence B, evidence C) had different thoughts about the season. They’ve proven that they can beat the best teams on any given night, although they are allowed to have their slumps.
What really matters is how the team responds and we’ve already seen multiple times that they won’t let some dumb little losing streak or a slight touch of adversity keep them down for long. This Red Wings team will keep grinding and fighting and scratching and clawing until there’s nothing left to give. And whether they make the playoffs this season or not that is an incredibly positive sign for the future of the team. The 25-year playoff streak was nice, sure. But hoisting the Cup at the end of the season is always the ultimate goal and the trajectory for the Red Wings is no longer on the down slope. We’re just now starting the upslope as described by this parabola. We’re talking algebra, folks.