The Wings were desperate for a road victory and started the game strong, but couldn’t seem to catch a break in the game’s final period, and weren’t doing themselves any favors either.
Now 9-8-3 overall, Detroit is locked in a three-way tie with the San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes for eighth place in the NHL‘s Western Conference Standings. A much-needed two points would’ve shot the Wings up into a tie for fourth with the Nashville Predators — that’s how tight of a race there is in the west right now.
Detroit is now 20 games deep into this 48-game shortened season, and 16 of the 24 that remain will be played in venues not named Joe Louis Arena. After the heartbreaker in LA Wednesday, they’ll be forced to bounce back immediately for a matchup with the Sharks in San Jose Thursday night.
The Wings are just 2-4-2 on the road in 2013, so clearly that has to improve in order for the longest active postseason appearance streak (21 straight years) in the NHL to remain intact.
Jimmy Howard was great in net (again), but another defensive meltdown in the final minutes left him to fend for himself with Anze Kopitar, a 1-on-1 battle the goalie isn’t going to win often. The Wings played strong, inspired defense (an uncommon sight this season) for two-and-a-half periods of hockey, but were once again forced to learn the painful lesson that one simple mistake can prove fatal at any time.
It seemed to be in years prior that Detroit would look sluggish out of the gate most games and finish strong. Lately, it’s been quite the contrary. The Wings have been starting hot and finding the net early, only to fizzle out when crunch-time rolls around.
They sure do miss the speed of Darren Helm, experience of Carlo Colaiacovo and general contributions of everyone else currently occupying the injured list, but this is certainly not the year where any team can afford to let injuries derail their season.
There’s nothing you can do about the health factor, but the Wings could certainly use some extra bodies to help divvy up the load the rest of the way. Oh, and a break here and there wouldn’t hurt, because they seem to be few and far between out on the road.