The Detroit Red Wings will finish the first half of the 2023-24 NHL season with a record of 26-18-6. The Red Wings lost to the Ottawa Senators in overtime by a score of 3-2. The Senators are the team that caused the Red Wings to miss the playoffs after a two-game series in February 2023. Brady Tkachuk of the Senators got under the skin of the Red Wings team, and the Red Wings did not push back. This led Red Wings’ general manager, Steve Yzerman, to make several trades prior to the 2023 trade deadline.
Fast forward one year, the Detroit Red Wings are once again in a playoff position, this time in a wild card spot. On the other hand, the Senators are currently in last place in the Atlantic Division with 40 points. This is largely due to the addition of Alex DeBrincat, who signed a four-year, $31.5 million contract during the offseason. DeBrincat, who is a Farmington Hills, Michigan native, has scored 18 goals and added 25 assists in 49 games played for the Red Wings. After being drafted 39th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, DeBrincat played one year for the Senators in which he scored 27 goals and added 39 assists in 82 games played in 2022-23.
The Red Wings and Senators have quickly evolved into rivals in the Eastern Conference. This rivalry continued in the 2023-24 season in the names of Mathieu Joseph of the Senators and Dylan Larkin of the Red Wings. Joseph and Larkin came together after a faceoff in December. The blow to Larkin’s head was forceful enough for him to fall to the ice where he laid motionless. Seeing this, David Perron jumped to the aid of his captain, cross-checking Artem Zub, who was not involved in the play. Perron was suspended six games.
This was not the first time that Larkin and Joseph had come together. After a hit from behind by Joseph in October of 2021, then of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Larkin punched Joseph in the head. Larkin obviously overacted because of the neck injury that he had suffered because he was cross-checked by Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars in May of 2021. After spending the summer of 2021 in a cervical hard collar, Larkin said that he was lucky to avoid surgery.
Despite the physical play on both sides between Detroit and Ottawa, the rivalry has been one-sided when it comes to wins and losses. In the last 10 games, the Red Wings have a record of 2-6-2 against the Senators. Jeff Blashill was the head coach of the Red Wings for some of that time as the team went through a rebuild. DeBrincat and Larkin may have led the Red Wings through the rebuild with their first half of the 2023-24 NHL season.
The Red Wings will have their league-mandated “bye-week” after the all-star break. Their first game back after this break will be against the Vancouver Canucks on February 10th. In the meantime, the Red Wings will take the week off to rest up for the second half of the 2023-24 NHL season. DeBrincat and Larkin, along with the addition of Patrick Kane, will look to make the playoff push.