NHL Detroit Red Wings

Western Road Trip Provides Tough Test For Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings Road Trip

Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports

A struggling Detroit Red Wings team will face its biggest test of the season so far, as they travel west to take on four teams in six nights. Given their recent offensive struggles, the Red  Wings lineup will likely look a little different than it has over the past two weeks. Games packed that close together also means that backup netminder Jonas Gustavsson will get his first start in two weeks, and he will try to improve on a great start. Detroit takes on the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, then travels to face the Calgary Flames on Friday, the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

Jimmy Howard hasn’t received much offensive support in his last four starts (all losses), as his team has netted only five goals over that span. The Canucks have won four games in a row, and their offensive stars will test the Red Wings defense. The Flames have cooled a bit after a hot start, but still rank eighth in the league in goals per game. Edmonton has dropped three consecutive games as they battle through injuries and try and sort out their goaltending situation. Finally, the game against the Jets is the closest on paper, as both teams have had offensive struggles, can’t seem to consistently convert on the power play and have wasted strong outings from their goaltenders due to a lack of scoring.

Winger Patrick Eaves will make his season debut against the Canucks, and other roster changes will become clearer as game time nears. Johan Franzen is rumored to be out with an unspecified injury, Drew Miller has been battling the flu, and center Luke Glendening was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL earlier in the week. Tomas Tatar could see time on the top line, while Stephen Weiss has been demoted yet again and is now on the fourth line. The return of Darren Helm at some point on the trip could further complicate things, as there just aren’t enough roster spots for all of the forwards if everyone’s healthy. This road trip will say a lot about what is in store for this Red Wings team, as they try and figure out if they’re the team that got off to a 6-2 start or the one that has since gone 0-2-2.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL featured columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.