Maybe there are no “must win” NHL games in November. But there are definitely “should win” NHL games this early in the season. The Red Wings have one of those contests tonight in Columbus. If the Detroit team wants fans to believe it is an improved team, it has to consistently beat teams beneath them in the standings.
If the Red Wings win this game, they close out the road trip with a respectable 2-1-1 record. They will be 1-2-1 if they lose in regulation. That would be disappointing, considering that three of the four teams didn’t make the playoffs last season.
“We have a chance to make this a pretty good road trip,” Red Wings forward David Perron told Bally Sports after they beat the San Jose Sharks.
Wrapping up the road trip in Columbus!
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) November 19, 2022
The Blue Jackets have won six games this season, and only one of those wins (against the New York Rangers) came against a team that is above .500.
Columbus had the NHL’s worst goals-against average (4.31) and power-play percentage (10.3%) The Blue Jackets have the league’s second-worst record (6-9-1) and goal-differential (-20). They have given up four or more goals in seven of their last eight games. The Blue Jackets are 3-0-1 in their last four games and still managed to give up four goals in three of those contests.
Blue Jackets Banged Up
Maybe more important, the Blue Jackets are beset by injuries. They have three defensemen injured, including No. 1 defender Zach Werenski who is gone for the season. Dynamic forward Patrik Laine is also out for a few weeks. No. 1 goalie Elvis Merzlikins is also out for another 10 days.
By scoring seven goals in their last game, the Red Wings seemed to unlock their offensive potential. The return of Tyler Bertuzzi should help, and Jonatan Berggren’s promotion could also help. Plus, the Red Wings got three goals from defensemen. The Red Wings could use more offensive production out of Moritz Seider. He netted his first goal of the season against the Sharks.
“We want to use our D, ” Seider said. “We want to have a five-man offense.”
The Red Wings seem to be acting as if tonight’s game is important. Said Seider: “We want to finish positive on this road trip.”