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Are Red Wings Punching Above Their Weight Class?

Detroit enjoying best start to season in 11 years

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Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider believes the Red Wings are building momentum via their special teams.

Hitting the 20-game mark of the NHL regular season with 26 points from an 11-5-4 slate was big news for the Detroit Red Wings. It’s the club’s best 20-game launch to a campaign since Detroit was going 14-4-2 (30 points) in 2010-11.

Is it all fool’s gold, though? Are the Red Wings really this good?

Even Detroit coach Derek Lalonde wonders about that.

“We’re probably overachieving as a group just because we have some great will,” Lalonde admitted.

The next month should tell a lot about just how good these Red Wings really are.

To date, Detroit has played the 28th-toughest schedule in the NHL. There’s been an awful lot of soft touches on the slate.

Beginning Monday, the road ahead is going to be somewhat rougher. In Detroit’s next nine games, there are games against Atlantic Division powerhouses the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Carolina Hurricanes, always a tough foe, are also on the docket. From the Western Conference, there are dates with the leaders in the Pacific (Vegas Golden Knights) and Central (Dallas Stars) divisions.

Special Teams Carrying Red Wings

Certainly, Detroit is taking advantage of something rarely seen in these parts, quality special teams play. The Red Wings are 8-for-20 (40%) with the man advantage over the past six games and that success is really building momentum for the club.

“I think that’s what we’re aiming for,” Detroit defenseman Moritz Seider said. “You can’t score on every one but we want to get momentum for our team.

“That’s what we try on the opposite side on the PK, too. If we have five-on-three, which we had in the last month or two quite a lot, we’ve been finding ways to kills those and completely change the flow of the game, and that’s what we try to do with the power play, too.

“It’s been moving good I think.”

The concern, though, is that the Red Wings aren’t driving the play enough when playing five-on-five. Detroit is 26th in the NHL with 38 five-on-five goals.

“We’re probably leaning on our special teams too much,” Lalonde admitted. “We’ve talked about the underlying five-on-five numbers.”

On a positive note, Lalonde felt that the team’s five-on-five play was displaying an uptick in Friday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes.

“It was an excellent five-on-five game,” Lalonde said. “It was looking pretty much like a complete game from us.”

Different Mindset For Red Wings

To the players who’ve endured the endless losing in recent years, this run of success is a breath of fresh air.

“Yeah of course it was tough,” defenseman Filip Hronek said. “Nobody wants to lose. You lose a lot and then it gets to your head and you kind of go in the game, you get scored on and you feel you’re back into it again. It’s not a great feeling.

“This feels better. I believe each guy feels better.”

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Not only that, they’re arriving at the rink on game night believing that if they play their game, they can beat any team.

“I think you’re starting to see a little bit more rhythm and flow to our game,” center Andrew Copp said. “There’s a belief every day coming to the rink that we’ve got a good chance to win.

“As soon as you get that feeling in the room it’s really good, just walking into the room knowing you have a good chance to win if you play your game.”

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