The Detroit Redwings, who earlier this season held the NHL’s top record, are stumbling towards the playoffs.
Since their record breaking 23 game home winning streak (when they led the league with 86 points), the Redwings are 3-11, earning just 9 points in that span. A big part of their recent skid is the numerous injuries that the team undergone.
During the last 8 games of their home winning streak, All Star goaltender Jimmy Howard was injured. He was replaced by Ty Conklin for his first absence and Joey Macdonald for the remaining 7 games. Macdonald was impressive in those games, losing the first and then winning the remaining 6.
Howard returned to the lineup on Tuesday Feb. 21, but lost his first three games before being injured again. Macdonald replaced Howard again in a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Howard returned for the next game in a 6-0 win against the Minnesota Wild, only to leave again with yet another injury.
Arguably the biggest losses for the Wings were to team captain Niklas Lindstrom and alternate captain Pavel Datsyuk
Lisdstrom has been out since a Feb. 25 after a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Lidstrom, who is regarded by many experts as the best defensemen of all time (he has won four Norris Trophies for best defenseman in the league) is an integral part to Detroit’s defense aswell as their offense. He has recorded 10 goals and 21 assists for the Redwings and is tied for 5th for the on the team with 31 points.
Datsyuk, who was amongst the NHL’s top five in assists and points prior to his absence, underwent knee surgery on Feb 21. The Redwings best player and one of the leagues best players, was out for nearly a month before returning to the lineup on Mar. 17 in an overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks. He recorded a goal in the loss.
Other injuries on the team include Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericcson, Johan Franzen and Jakub Kindl. Franzen leads the team with 26 goals and is fourth in points with 53. Kindl and Ericcson are key members of the Detroit blue line contributing 12 and 10 points respectively. Helm is one of ten Redwings with 10 or more goals.
The Redwings hope to get most of their injured players back before the postseason. They will need them to make a deep run into the playoffs.
Photo Courtesy of Anna Enriquez