As the Detroit Red Wings were dismantling the Phoenix Coyotes at home Monday night, finally, things started to look a bit more normal around Hockeytown.
Coming into the crucial game, Detroit had an average 10-11 record at Joe Louis Arena and has often times looked more vulnerable in their lifeless yet comfy home confines than on the road. Now, with a long awaited goal explosion and some excitement, the Red Wings’ biggest advantage over the final three games could be that two of them are on home ice.
Getting Monday’s win in dominating fashion should help the Red Wings rediscover some long overdue confidence at Joe Louis Arena. This season, they’ve been terrible in one goal games while at home. Jumping out to an early lead, then quickly padding it and running away was an overdue sight this season. At last, there wasn’t a doubt who would win late in the third period.
The Red Wings still control their own destiny towards a 22nd straight year in the playoffs, and they’ll need to replicate Monday’s effort against another game opponent on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Kings. One day later, the Nashville Predators come to town. That’s four critical points, all of which the Red Wings will desperately need before hitting the road for the final game against the Dallas Stars.
Knowing this, the Red Wings’ fans have to match the desperate mood in Hockeytown in the stands over the next few days, and be loud, excited and engaged from the drop of the puck on. Now isn’t the time for fans going to games to panic with every ebb and flow; instead, they need to push the team with their excitement and rally behind the playoff cause at all times. At this point, an intimidating Joe Louis Arena driving two crucial wins is the only way Detroit makes the playoffs.
At this point, there’s no need for fans to delve into the negative of the season or obsess about their frustrations. The Red Wings control their own destiny and finally looked committed on Monday night towards not letting the longest playoff streak in professional sports die without a fight. Now, the responsibility lies with the fans to help push them over the top the rest of this week.
Three games left. Two are at home. By driving your team with passion and excitement when it’s needed the most, it’s time to prove why you’ve always been Hockeytown, Detroit.
Play Of The Week: Valterri Filppula’s power play goal against Phoenix. If there’s one player the Red Wings need to lead the charge into the playoffs and beyond, it’s Filppula, who’s huge goal against Phoenix helped extend Detroit’s lead and put the game out of reach. Filppula needs to play better in the final three games of the season and turn it on if Detroit manages to make the playoffs. An important goal is a huge step in that, though, and a definite welcome sight for the team’s scoring depth.
Game Of The Week: Los Angeles vs. Detroit. The defending Stanley Cup champions visit Detroit with the Red Wings desperately needing two points to supplement Monday’s great effort against Phoenix. Last time the Kings played at Joe Louis Arena, the game was fantastic and Detroit won on a last second buzzer beater. Providing the Red Wings can carry over their intensity from Monday, this should be another great game, especially given Detroit’s desperate position.
Stat Of The Week: 3 of 5 and 0-4, Detroit’s power play and penalty kill numbers against Phoenix. The Red Wings made the Coyotes pay for their discipline problems and used two early power play goals to take over the game and surge their momentum forward. When killing penalties, Detroit was flawless and was much more responsible than at other times this season. The next three games are critical, and special teams will play a role. Detroit has to be just as good in order to get the points they need to win.
Central Charting: With 50 points and trailing seventh and eighth place by only one point, the Red Wings are desperate and need wins in their final three games to secure the playoffs. Detroit’s closest competition from behind is Dallas, with 48 points. Truly, it’s win or go home a week before the playoffs even begin.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax