The Detroit Red Wings only have nine games remaining in the regular season, and after a lack of offense in a Sunday loss to the St. Louis Blues find themselves in danger of slipping out of playoff contention. While goaltender Jimmy Howard turned in another great effort between the pipes, the inconsistent Red Wings’ offense did nothing for him, leaving him on the wrong end of a goaltending duel with Brian Elliott.
Detroit has now lost four of its last six games, and by giving up two points on Sunday, saw St. Louis jump into seventh in the Western Conference standings while they slid to eighth. Outside of a pair of 3-2 wins over the Colorado Avalanche, the Red Wings have scored three goals in four of their last six games, while going 2-for-12 on the power play. If they can’t find their offensive groove in the next two weeks, they could miss the playoffs for the first time in more than two decades.
A roster that continues to see changes had Riley Sheahan playing his second NHL game on Sunday and defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff sitting out for a second consecutive game. Rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser has not looked out of place in his first two games, and his performance on Sunday was one of few bright spots for the Red Wings. Damien Brunner, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson remain out with injuries.
The Red Wings only face two more sets of games on consecutive nights, so there’s a good chance Howard will see at least seven more starts. If he doesn’t get some support at the other end of the ice it may not matter how well he plays and the Red Wings could see their season end earlier than expected.