Detroit – If the NHL season were to end today, the Red Wings would be in the playoffs.
Now, the Wings have 63 games left, so the actual end of the season is a long way off. Nobody gets carried away (well, some are on social media).
But after Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Nashville, the Wings are in the playoff chase at American Thanksgiving, which in past NHL history, gives them roughly a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs (looking at years’ results) upon playoffs. Actually start.
Having missed the postseason for the past six seasons and usually being quite far at this juncture, this is all good news for Wings fans.
“(Former Wings general manager) Ken Holland was talking about it all the time,” said Captain Dylan Larkin, who had a goal on Wednesday. “It’s still early days. We’ve put ourselves in a great position. We’ve had some great wins in the squad and we’re there. I’d like to see that. I’m a big believer when you’re in the playoffs at Easter (at the start of the playoffs), it means something and that’s what matter.
“We have to be there, and I’ve said it since day one, just keep us there and stay right and see what happens. We’re finding ways to win now and when things don’t go our way, it’s not getting any bigger. It’s a huge improvement over the last few years.”
There was plenty of good news on Wednesday, too, as the Wings (10-5-4) opened a five-game game with an impressive win over Nashville (9-9-2).
Goaltender Phil Hosseu, who starred throughout the game, stopped 26 shots for his third shutout and Larkin and Philip Hronik (power play) scored second period goals to ignite the victory. It was the ninth goal for Larkin and the fifth for Hronik, but the fourth in the last three matches.
Michael Rasmussen added an empty net goal.
But it was Hosu who largely led the way to the wings.
“It was probably the goalkeeper’s first complete victory, he stole the game,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “He’s been fantastic, solid, and there are games where we’ve been really good to him and he didn’t have to do much. But tonight, he was the difference in the game. He was the best player on the ice and if he’s not as good in the second or third (periods) then maybe we’ll look at the result.” different.”
Hosso could hear the large crowd at Little Caesars Arena chanting his name for most of the evening, and admitted he felt in a groove.
“The men played well, blocking shots, especially in the third period, there weren’t many events,” Hasso said. “It’s good to see that. We still need to improve and everyone knows that, and there are a lot of games ahead of us.
“It’s always nice to have the fans cheering and it’s nice to hear that. It gives us a little extra energy for sure.”
The turning point in the game was that the Wings killed a 1 minute, 37 second Nashville two-man advantage midway through the second period, with the Wings clinging to a 1-0 lead. Husso made great stops on Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi during the Predators’ power play, sparking a rowdy crowd on Thanksgiving Eve.
The Wings were also without two of their best defenders for that penalty kick, as Moritz Seider (stumbling) and Ben Chiarott (late game) were in the penalty area and served penalties.
“Only momentum,” said Lalonde of what the penalty gave the Wings. “To only be 1-0 up and to have that killing momentum, but that credit goes to Ole (Mata) and Hronik, and where their game was ), and that’s a good sign for us.
“Our special teams second period was a big part of the game. Special teams saved us and gave us a lot of momentum. Our best period was the third, but the first 40 minutes, our special teams and our goalkeeper (were the difference).”
The wings claim Helberg
The Wings added goaltending depth in the organization on Wednesday afternoon, asking Magnus Helberg to come off waivers.
Hilberg, 31, played one game with the Wings last season, and picked up a win in New Jersey’s last regular season game.
Hilberg signed with Seattle last summer, was waived and claimed by Ottawa, and then relinquished by the Senators only to be claimed by Seattle.
Now, Hellberg is being claimed by the Wings after Hellberg was relinquished by the Kraken.
Hilberg played one game this season, stopping 29 shots for Ottawa in a 4-2 win over Dallas, October 24.
Lalonde said after Wednesday’s victory that getting Helberg was a kind of insurance in case anything went wrong from a health standpoint for either Hossu or Alex Nedeljkovic.
“We would like another option if something goes wrong with our two best players,” said Lalonde. “It gives us another choice.”