Forget your expensive local comedy club. Often times, all anybody has to do in order to get a good, free laugh is take a glance at the Detroit Red Wings’ schedule. Where will they be shipped next? How random and utterly insane is their latest upcoming road assignment?
Coming off a lockout year, this schedule watching phenomenon has become even more fun, if only to closely watch the absurd in action. The NHL, desperate to make up time and keep things as “normal” as possible, will scramble the Red Wings very intensely all over the map through the end of March. Detroit just got back from their extended western Canada trip, which saw stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Given that, logically, it only make sense to send Detroit home for one game on Wednesday night against Minnesota, confuse their body clocks further, then immediately ship them back out west for two straight games against the Anaheim Ducks in the midst of a four game west coast trip in the states, right? Coming off that trip, three days later, they’re expected to be ready for a 12:30 p.m. EST game against the Chicago Blackhawks and play one more at home against Colorado before heading back west to take on the Coyotes and Avalanche. Roll the laugh track now. I hope you’re keeping up, because later, there will be a quiz.
It’s times like this you realize the reason it will be downright invigorating to leave the Western Conference next season. How are the Red Wings supposed to ever adjust to these insane trips? These guys are certainly the most hardened of business travelers, but jettisoning anyone from the west coast back to the east for a day, then back west for a week is bound to create some confusion. Heck, I feel like passing out just thinking of this grueling travel as I type.
There’s no excuses for the Red Wings, whom I believe should still make the playoffs this year and excel. This upcoming stretch, though, will be perhaps the most major challenge of the season. The schedule might become Detroit’s biggest opponent through the beginning of April, as the team literally fights to stay awake for their games while they attempt to keep pace in the jam packed Western Conference. It’s hard enough to make the playoffs given all of the Red Wings’ roster turnaround in a shortened season, but that feat will be complicated further given all of Detroit’s wacky travel through the end of March.
Though the competition might prove a little stiffer in the Eastern Conference, at least the Red Wings won’t be fighting changes in time zones on back to back weeks. If there’s a small measure of positivity to be taken from the move, it’s that. Trips from western Canada to Detroit, then back to California make absolutely no sense for a team who plays their home games on the eastern schedule. Soon, we’ll be able to waive all of these clock conundrums goodbye forever.
Until then, a return to school with some multiple choice (remember, I promised there would be a quiz). Where are the Red Wings scheduled to travel in the beginning of April after they return home from a western trip to play Chicago and Colorado? A) Phoenix B) Vancouver C) Anaheim or D) Timbuktu.
If you managed to cheat or keep up enough to answer A, you’re correct, but given the Red Wings’ unique circumstances, we’d also certainly accept D.
Play Of The Week: Justin Abdelkader’s icebreaker goal in Vancouver. After Detroit was scored on six seconds into the game, the next goal was critical on the road. Fortunately for the Red Wings, a heads up Abdeklader delivered it just six minutes later, helping to rescue some important momentum. The Red Wings never looked back, and went on to win the game 5-2. It would have never been possible but if not for Abdelkader’s quick response.
Game Of The Week: Minnesota at Detroit, Wednesday. We’re not ignoring two huge impending match ups with the Ducks so much as putting a premium on these two points for the Red Wings against the Wild. With another grueling western trip awaiting, Detroit needs to do something good at home after getting a bit of rest to keep them hanging around the standings. Nobody knows what will happen on the road, and all the games against Minnesota have been excellent this season. This should be no exception.
Stat Of The Week: 13, the amount of goals the Red Wings have scored against Roberto Luongo in two games this year, which is a wild number considering their usually tepid offense in 2013 and Luongo’s once very visible talent. Detroit has put it on Luongo both at home and on the road thus far, and he should want no part of the final game between the teams later in April at the Rogers Center.
Central Charting: The Red Wings have 33 points, which is good for third place in the Central Division. They’re one point behind the St. Louis Blues for second place, and are hanging around the 4-7 logjam in the Western Conference standings.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax