The next time the Detroit Red Wings come to Denver, it will either be for the Stanley Cup Finals (unlikely) or the 2016 Stadium Series game outdoors at Coors Field. Tonight's game, however, will be indoors and there will be a big two points up for grabs with the Avs drawing closer toward a playoff spot. While the Avs-Red Wings is nothing like it used to be, there's still something special about an Avs-Red Wings game. There's an electricity in the air. Maybe it's due to the fact that all the Detroit transplants come out of hibernation to don their rage-red jerseys of winged wheels and pretend for one night that they actually believe that Detroit is a better city than Denver. Maybe it's the extra energy the Avs fans bring to yell over those Detroit transplants. Or maybe, just maybe it's the fact that even though the names on the ice have changed and the bad blood has faded, you still love to hate the Red Wings. I know I do.
When the Avs beat the Red Wings in a shootout at the Joe back on December 21st, it was like Christmas came four days early. It may just be another game as far as the professionals are concerned, but for a die-hard Avs fan such as myself, it's personal. So, if the Avs can win tonight and sweep the season series against the Wings, it'll be a good year no matter how it ends. I just can't wait to see what next year brings outdoors...
But for now, it's still 2015, and there's a game to be played at the Pepsi Center. The Avs are coming in high off a big come-from-behind win against the Stars on Tuesday and are sitting one place higher in the standings as well as one place closer to the playoffs. But with Vancouver coming back to win Tuesday and the Flames picking steam (smoke?), the Jets are looking like they may be the team to chase with their season seemingly starting to come crashing down (no pun intended). If that is the case, now is the time for the Avs to strike and string together some victories. They have a tough weekend ahead (@Minnesota Saturday and @Winnipeg Sunday), but a weekend that can really solidify their playoff run if they register the maximum points. Let's hope they can get things off on the right foot tonight at home.
On the other side of the puck, the Red Wings look like they are going to up their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 24 barring something unforeseen. Despite losing Jimmy Howard to a groin injury last month, the Wings have gone 7-1-0 in his absence and find themselves tied with Montreal for Second in the Atlantic division and just two points behind Tampa Bay for the division lead. Part of the reason for the Wings' success has been the goal scoring of young players like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who each have over twenty goals on the season. With the rise of more young stars, the Wings continue to show why they have been able to retain regular season success for nearly a quarter century.
- Detroit and Toronto are the only two NHL teams thus far with multiple 20-goal scorers.
- The late goal by Tyson Barrie Tuesday marked the fourth time in the last six games the Avs have scored with their goalie pulled late in the third to tie the game and force OT. While I couldn't find what the record was for most goals scored with the goalie pulled in a season, I did find this scholarly article that dives into the statistics of pulling the goalie and even references Patrick Roy's Quebec League coaching career.
- Maybe the Avs should try pulling their goalie for power plays to get results. 0-for-20 now.
- Apparently some people think the Red Wings should pursue Ryan O'Reilly. The Red Wings are a team that thinks ahead (Datsyuk is getting older), so I can see why O'Reilly would interest them, but what would they offer that would interest the Avs? Unless...Jonathon Ericsson and a 2nd round pick? That may just be enough to convince one to make a deal with the devil.
Game time: 7pm, MT
TV: NBCSN, SN360