If the Detroit Red Wings are to make the playoffs they will need all hands on deck. Leaders like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard must be at their best no doubt, but the fate of the Wings may be in the hands of their secondary scoring.
Players like Johan Franzen, Valterri Filppula and Damien Brunner must regain their scoring touch to give the Wings scoring depth beyond Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
The Wings got a huge lift from those secondary scorers in a 4-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in a must win game Monday night.
Franzen opened the scoring with a beautiful deflection off a Brunner slap pass just 2:37 into the game on the power-play.
Brunner then slammed home a beautiful cross-ice, no-look pass from Zetterberg on the power-play to give the Wings a 2-0 lead with less than a minute left in the opening stanza.
Filppula then quickly fired home a tight angle shot on the power-play from Zetterberg to give the Wings an insurmountable 3-0 lead in a game they had to win. Franzen then finished off the scoring with an empty-netter to seal the 4-0 victory.
The goals from Brunner and Filppula were big aside from their impact on the game, as each player came in riding sizable goal scoring slumps. Brunner had just one goal in his last 21 games, while Filppula had one goal in his last 16 games, so the goals for each player were big to hopefully get them jump started for the stretch run.
Yes Zetterberg was amazing with his playmaking, and Datsyuk was his usual disruptive self playing his stout defensive game. Sure Howard kept the Wings in the game in the first period as the Coyotes carried the play. However, the Wings can only survive this week and make the playoffs if they can get consistent scoring from the secondary scorers. Zetterberg and Datsyuk have been reunited on the top line for awhile now, so players like Franzen, Brunner, Filppula, Dan Cleary and Gustav Nyquist must step up and help shoulder the offensive load.
Howard has shown he can keep the Wings in any game when they hit a lull, like he did in the first period against Phoenix, but he cannot score goals.
The Wings will need their secondary scorers once again as they get a stiff test on Wednesday with the Los Angeles Kings coming to town. The defending champs know all about depth and secondary scoring, so it will be a great chance for the Wings to measure up and see how their depth compares.
If Monday night was any indication how the rest of the season will go for the Wings, there very well may be a 22nd consecutive postseason in Detroit.
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