Simply put, the Detroit Red Wings looked exhausted Friday night. Outside of little bursts here and there, Detroit seemed out of gas by the middle of the second period. A short spurt in the dying seconds of the game from a flying Dylan Larkin appeared to maybe inject some life into what was a tired effort.
After playing four games in seven days, including back-to-back contests Thursday-Friday, Detroit gets some much-needed rest that doesn’t see it in another game until a February 7 home date against Edmonton.
It should be a break that will help renew a team that faces another stretch of pivotal games.
A Busy January for the Red Wings
In 13 games, Detroit went 5-7-1 through their January stretch, certainly not where the Red Wings wanted to be. When they resume play in February, they will be less than a month away from the trade deadline. Whether the Red Wings will be buyers or sellers is one of many questions that willbe answered over this next stretch of games.
There are other questions, ranging from being a playoff team, to whether Dylan Larkin will sign a contract extension. Detroit’s performance through January, though, saw mixed results. Predictable were losses to New Jersey and Toronto, both top teams in the conference and division.
Less expected were losses to Columbus and Arizona, teams the Red Wings should have likely beaten. It’s been a back and forth type of season for them, trying to find their spot as they try to move past the rebuild.
February will surely answer some questions, but also bring up a few more.
Leads to a Make-or-Break February
Filip Zadina is expected to return, which will feature the healthiest lineup card since the season started with a 3-0 win over Montreal. But February certainly should be the final clue as to where the Red Wings stand.
Three home games make way for a four-game West Coast trip that includes Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle. Detroit will then jet to Washington for the final game of five on the road. The seven-game stretch will be be played in 12 days, and includes a back-to-back with the Oilers and Flames.
The final four games of the month feature the Rangers and Lightning at home, followed by a pair in Ottawa.
In other words, the Red Wings have their work cut out for them. It will also likely determine the fate of the team as the trade deadline looms.
Unless the bottom falls out, it doesn’t seem like fans should hope for lottery luck in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. They seem to be out of the rebuild phase, but still some ways from playoff contention.
February will not only be intriguing to see how the Red Wings play, but how general manager Steve Yzerman will alter things based on those results.
Promising signs have been the play of Michael Rasmussen, Lucas Raymond, and Moritz Seider. Jake Walman has been a revelation. David Perron has proven to be a great veteran pickup.
But the Red Wings will need all hands on deck once their February tilt takes off.
Yes, the break comes at the perfect time for a team that needs to recharge. The next month will certainly tell fans–and the team itself–precisely where it stands as the trade deadline nears.