The Detroit Red Wings are 9-5-4 heading into the unofficial marker of playoff predictions – American Thanksgiving. It was former general manager Ken Holland who schemed the late November holiday as a bellwether for teams seeking postseason play.
Does it hold up? Will the Red Wings hold up?
After what was a shaky start to a four-game road trip, Detroit came roaring back with 13 goals in consecutive victories against San Jose and Columbus. Now with a five-game homestand, the Red Wings have a chance to solidify their footing starting Wednesday against Nashville.
In this edition of Two Truths and a Lie, DHN looks at home play, playoff odds, and one off-the-cuff topic regarding the Thanksgiving meal.
Truth: The Five-Game Home Stretch Will Test the Red Wings Much More Than the Road Trip
Detroit is 5-2-2 at Little Caesars Arena this season and have outscored their opponents 19-14 in the final two periods. Regardless of where they have played, the Red Wings are 6-0-2 when leading after two periods of play. At home? A perfect 3-0-0.
Following Detroit’s 6-1 win over Columbus, Moritz Seider told Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson that the team was “sleepy” during the loss to Los Angeles last Monday. The Red Wings haven’t looked sleepy often in Hockeytown, except for the 8-2 drubbing from the New York Rangers.
With all of that said, the home team hosts some deceivingly good teams. Nashville is an overtime period away from being on a four game winning streak. Arizona, though clearly looking to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, is 6-9-1, but have surrendered 3.63 goals per game. From there it’s Toronto, Buffalo, and then Vegas.
Leading into the next “truth,” while the road trip started shaky and ended strong, the Red Wings will be facing stiffer competition on the back end of the five-game stint. But it will provide another clue as to whether the Red Wings are truly trending toward a playoff role.
HEADIN' HOME HAPPY! pic.twitter.com/UtHdPr9foi
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) November 20, 2022
Truth: New Years, not Thanksgiving, Might Be a More Accurate Playoff Predictor
DHN’s Kevin Allen wrote about this yesterday and it bears repeating: 76% of teams in the salary cap era who are in a playoff spot by the American Thanksgiving end up making the postseason. Detroit is sitting fourth in the Atlantic Division and has held its own during stretches without some key players.
According to the playoff probabilities report on Hockey Reference, as of this week, the Red Wings have a 54.4% chance of making the playoffs.
Allen, however, warned that a tougher schedule awaits in December. Last season, they were 8-8-2 during the month and in the midst of what would become a four-game losing streak.
Detroit would rally, win five in a row, and then boast a 13-9-3 record at the 25 game mark. They would hover around .500 for a chunk of the season until March when some ugly losses spelled another playoff-less season.
While Thanksgiving is a nice gauge, perhaps New Year’s Day tells a better story. Detroit was just barely above .500 as the calendar turned over, and by January 2, was dead even at 15-15-3. This seems to paint a more accurate picture of what would be.
On January 1st, 2022, the Red Wings were a point ahead of the Bruins, but only because of five games in hand. Of the eight playoff teams in the East, seven in playoff position on New Years Day ended up in the postseason.
The West, however, was a different story. Vegas and Anaheim, who were at the top of the division, failed to make the playoffs. Every other team in playoff position remained there. So the New Years clip is slightly higher at 81.25%. If taken a day later, all eight teams in the East would be properly in, bumping the accuracy up to 87.5%.
Going back to the 2018-19 season where things were not altered due to the pandemic, the percentage sits at an 81.25% clip. Certainly it stands to reason that an additional month of hockey eliminates some of the mystery. But there are still four months of hockey to play so it’s not perfect science.
Lie: Stuffing is the Best Side Dish for Thanksgiving
Because of the topic of Thanksgiving, it might be fun to take a detour from hockey and look at something related to the holiday synonymous with diverse food offerings.
For those that celebrate the American Thanksgiving, the main course is preceded by Lions football before food is placed on the table and plates are filled.
According to a poll from Parade Magazine, stuffing is considered America’s favorite side dish, thereby making it #1.
This is a flat out lie. Mashed potatoes were robbed. Beyond the standard homemade with butter, milk, and sour cream that cemented it as my favorite dish, the variations instantly propel it to the top.
What about a little bit of garlic? How about the traditional fare with some melted cheese and chunks of bacon sprinkled about? There’s even the mashed potato puffs, which eliminate the need for forks. The variety of the mashed potatoes dish only adds to the intrigue, as well a treat to the palate.
This isn’t to besmirch the time tested tradition of stuffing. Whether we go with the eye test or decide to balance it with analytics, America voted on stuffing as the favorite.
But it doesn’t mean it’s the best.