The Detroit Red Wings’ mission to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons involves the NHL equivalent of running with the bulls.
This morning, there are seven teams competing for two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. Those seven teams are all within five points of each other. They all boast points percentages between .527 and .573. That’s too many bulls running hard over a short distance.
Just over seven weeks remain in the NHL season. It ends on April 14.
As is also the case with the bulls in Pamploma, Spain, winning involves remaining unscathed while making a dash for the finish line.
👋 from D.C! pic.twitter.com/FBmcZ1tvFj
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 20, 2023
The Red Wings are three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders who currently sit in the two wild-card spots. The Islanders were wounded over the weekend when key performer Mathew Barzal suffered a lower body injury. The Islanders announced today that he is out indefinitely.
Detroit is looking to complete a successful road trip by downing the struggling Capitals Tuesday in the nation’s capital. The Caps have lost four in a row and are 5-10-0 since Jan. 11. Washington has been outscored 17-7 in their four-game losing streak.
They are 0-3 since their captain Alex Ovechkin took a leave of absence to deal with the issues surrounding the death of his father. NHL.com’s Tom Guilliti reported that Ovechkin could return to the lineup later this week.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said he's hoping Alex Ovechkin will be back at some point this week.
"I haven’t communicated with him, but we’ll see. He’s dealing with his stuff at home and we’ll see how it goes."
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) February 20, 2023
Ovechkin on Leave of Absence
Without Ovechkin, the Capitals are averaging two goals per game. Even with Ovechkin, the Capitals rank 22nd in scoring with an average of three goals per game. When you take Ovechkin’s 32 goals out of the equation, Washington doesn’t have anyone who has scored more than 13 goals.
Since New Year’s Day, the Capitals have played 19 games and given four or more goals in eight of those games. Only four times they have given up under three goals during that span.
The Capitals haven’t missed the playoffs since 2014. With the trade deadline approaching, Washington general manager Brian MacLellan will have decisions to make about whether he will make a trade to help his team.
The Red Wings are 1-0-1 against Washington this season.
The Red Wings are looking to rebound from Saturday’s 4-2 lose to the Seattle Kraken that ended their five-game winning streak. If they can down the Capitals, they would complete a 4-1 road trip.
Detroit is still playing without injured Lucas Raymond. He still has not resumed practicing with the team. The Red Wings may opt to use Jakub Vrana against his former team. He was recalled recently by the Red Wings from their Grand Rapids farm team, but hasn’t played in any games.