After a start to the season that made it look like the Detroit Red Wings had made one of the best offseason free-agent moves of any team in the NHL, Swiss forward Damien Brunner had been on a 15-game goal drought before Monday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. Brunner started the season with three goals in the first seven games and by the end of February had seven goals and 12 points. Since then, he had managed only five assists, resulting in a drop in ice time and even one night as a healthy scratch. He scored the eventual game-winner on Monday, with an assist from Gustav Nyquist. Getting Brunner involved offensively is a great sign for a Red Wings team that needs to start racking up wins to guarantee a trip to the playoffs.
Brunner has seen time with many of Detroit’s forwards this season, and at the moment has a home on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Drew Miller. With captain Henrik Zetterberg out the past two games, the Red Wings offense has at times looked completely lost. Brunner also sees time on the first power play unit, and the team’s recent success with the man-advantage helped lead to wins in four of the last six games.If Brunner, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen can start scoring goals again it should help fill the void left by Zetterberg’s absence.
The Red Wings face the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday before another meeting with the Avalanche on Friday. As the Western Conference race tightens in the final month of the season, every point matters. Seeing Brunner end his scoring drought was great, but he now needs to keep delivering.