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Detroit Red Wings

Are NHL Teams Disrespecting The Red Wings?



Zach Fucale, Washington Capitals
Saturday's game figures to be the eighth in a row in which the Red Wings won't face an oppositon No. 1 goalie.

Is the rest of the NHL disrespecting the Detroit Red Wings?

All signs are pointing to the Red Wings being a much-improved team. At 7-6-2, they sit third in the Atlantic Division. They rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 overtime decision over the Washington Capitals. The Wings gave the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning all they could handle before succumbing 7-6 in OT. Likewise a hard-fought battle with the 10-2-2 Florida Panthers ended in a 3-2 OT loss.

“We have a better hockey team,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “So you have a better chance to come back, and with that you have more belief, and belief that you can come back.

“I think there’s probably a little more inner belief. Part of that is there’s been an infusion of talent, so we have guys that believe we can go out and turn the tide a little bit. I think over the last couple years we’ve added some guys that are calm.

“Between that belief and that sense of calmness that we’re going to keep staying with it and keep playing good hockey.”

The Red Wings may be maintaining more belief in themselves. However, the opposition doesn’t appear to be buying into this theory.

No. 2 Is First Choice vs Red Wings

Saturday, when the Wings play host to the Montreal Canadiens, it’s guaranteed for the eighth successive game that they won’t be facing the No. 1 goaltender of their opponents.

Now, in this instance, circumstances are dictating that it’s likely that Montreal backup Jake Allen will be in the net. He’s been filling the void between the pipes for the Habs since Carey Price voluntarily entered the NHL’s player assistance program.

Similarly, Dustin Tokarski started for Buffalo against Detroit because Sabres’ No. 1 puckstopper Craig Anderson was injured. On the other hand, five other times, teams had made the choice to start their backup when facing the Wings.

The Toronto Maple Leafs went with ex-Red Wing Petr Mrazek in his first game back from a groin injury to launch this streak. Allen got the start in Montreal, and then rookie Jeremy Swayman for the Bruins in Boston. Next was Tokarski, followed by Laurent Brossoit of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers went with Stuart Skinner in his first start of the season and second of his NHL career against the Wings. Thursday, Zach Fucale made his NHL debut and posted a 2-0 shutout victory over Detroit.

There are other reasons why teams will start a backup. A team could be playing back-to-back games. Injuries, of course, can always be a factor.

However, when a team is consistently seeing steady diet of second-stringers, it’s generally because the opposition isn’t considering them to be a serious threat.

Based on the numbers, those teams may have a point. In these past seven games against backup goalies, the Red Wings are 3-4.