The Detroit Red Wings will return to the ice on Saturday when they face the Vancouver Canucks to kick off the second half of the season with 32 games left on the schedule. Over the weekend at the All-Star game, Alex DeBrincat stole the show as he helped lead Team Matthews to victory recording six points over the two games scoring three goals and three assists; he also scored the game-winner in the shootout of the semifinals to get Team Matthews to the Championship. Auston Matthews would be named MVP, but he conceded the trophy to DeBrincat later on as he should have been awarded the trophy. The Red Wings currently sit in a playoff spot and hold a six-point lead over the New York Islanders for the final spot, they also trail the Tampa Bay Lightning by one point for third place in the Atlantic Division.
First Half Recap
The Red Wings wrapped up the first half at 26-18-6 and 58 points and are in a playoff spot, much different than this time last year when they were 21-19-8 with 50 points and were sitting at 13th in the Eastern Conference and seven points out of a playoff spot. They have wrapped up their season series with the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets. In the offseason, they added Alex DeBrincat, Daniel Sprong, Shayne Gostisbehere, J.T. Compher, Christian Fischer, Justin Holl, Klim Kostin, and Alex Lyon who have all made a huge difference to this team and have led the Red Wings to where they are now. DeBrincat is second on the team in points, goals, and assists. Sprong is fourth in points and goals and sixth in assists. Gostisbehere is fifth in points, 12th in goals, and third in assists. Compher is sixth in points and goals and seventh in assists. Fischer, Holl, and Kostin have provided toughness and depth on the bottom forward line and defensive line. The biggest addition in Alex Lyon has been the most beneficial as he is a reason the Red Wings are where they are, having sat out a good majority of the season as the third goalie on the depth chart. Lyon got his chance on November 17th and ran with it. Ville Husso has been hurt since December 18th but is expected to return when the Red Wings get back on the ice which could create a goalie competition with Lyon’s great play. The other addition they made came during the season signing Patrick Kane and in his 19 games he has 16 points on seven goals and nine assists, he has however been out since January 14th with a lower-body injury but is expected to also return after the break which will add more scoring to a team that finished January 9-2-2 and outscored their opponents 44-33.
Detroit Red Wings First Half MVP: Alex Lyon
Lyon has relished his chance with the Red Wings and is a primary reason why they are where they are after 50 games in the season. He has started 21 games now going 13-6-2 with a 2.51 GAA and a .922 save percentage; he is fourth in the league in save percentage and tied for eighth in the GAA. Even the majority of the games the Red Wings have lost with Lyon in net he has turned in some stellar performances but had been let down by either the offense not scoring or the defense leaving him out to dry. If it wasn’t for Lyon’s play who knows where the Red Wings would be right now especially with Husso having been out.
Second Half Preview
The Red Wings will start the second half at home against Vancouver before they head to Western Canada for a road trip that will feature matchups against the red-hot Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver again, Calgary Flames, and Seattle Kraken. The combined record of their opponents they will face in the second half is 518-393-112. They will face ten teams currently in a playoff spot a total of 13 times, in the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, and St. Louis Blues, they will also have key matchups against the teams that are currently chasing them in the Wild Card race as they will face the New York Islanders twice, Pittsburgh Penguins twice, Washington Capitals three times, Buffalo Sabres three times, and the Montreal Canadiens twice. In the first half, they went 11-13-0 against teams currently in a playoff spot, with the tough schedule they have in the second half they will need to finish with a winning record against teams in a playoff spot if they want to continue their trend of returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2015-16.
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Detroit Red Wings Second Half Player to Watch: Patrick Kane
Kane has proved since joining the Red Wings he can help the offense in a major way, if he can stay healthy once he returns, he can help this team in its current run, especially with the tough matchups they have ahead. In his career against some of the teams coming up, he has put up good numbers. If he’s healthy the whole second half, he should finish close to the top five in points based on the numbers he’s put up in just 19 games since he put on the winged wheel sweater.
Bottom Line: Playoff Hockey could return to Detroit
The Red Wings are set up for a real chance to be playing playoff hockey come the middle of April, assuming they continue their great play and can continue to get solid goaltending especially with Husso coming back. The goalie setup should be Lyon as the number one and Husso as the 1B. They will also need to continue to produce a positive goal differential which is +13 right now, if that can also continue there will be playoff hockey at Little Caesars Arena for the first time in its existence.