The Detroit Red Wings start the second half of the season on Saturday. The Wings are seven points out of the final wild-card spot as of Friday, but it could be much worse. Detroit was picked to finish near the bottom of the league but has played well in stretches.
There’s still uncertainty with general manager Ken Holland’s future and the team will likely be a seller at the trade deadline if they fall further out of the playoff race. However, there’s still a shot at making the postseason.
Let’s take a look at how each group is doing and what’s in store in the second half.
Dylan Larkin has adapted well to his move to center and is generating offense. He might not be providing goals, but has a team-leading 28 assists. Larkin has also thrived with the added responsibilities of the penalty kill and has started clicking with Andreas Athanasiou.
Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist are tied for the team lead in goals with 14, but there’s a feeling Mantha could do more. He’s been dominant in stretches, but has been inconsistent. Nyquist has regained his goal-scoring form from years past.
Tomas Tatar will top 20 goals again, but needs to do more if the Wings want to make a charge. Frans Nielsen has 10 goals on a mostly defensive line. Martin Frk is cashing in on his final opportunity to make it in Detroit, thanks to his excellent shot.
Players like Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Henrik Zetterberg have to pick up offensive production. Helm and Abdelkader have chipped in with their hits and defensive play. Luke Glendening leads the team in hits despite being out for a couple of weeks from a hand injury.
Players like Tyler Bertuzzi will get more opportunities if Detroit falls out of the race. Many prospects will get an extended look later this season also.
The team’s defense was one of the biggest question marks coming into season, but the unit has exceeded expectations. Mike Green is having an All-Star season and Trevor Daley has been a good pickup. Jonathan Ericsson and Daley have formed a solid pairing.
Danny DeKeyser is looking to regain his form from two seasons ago, but has been hampered by an ankle injury. The injury cost him 18 games, which hasn’t helped his cause. He’s been playing better as of late and that may signal a return to his best level of play.
Jimmy Howard has been one of the best goalies in the league this season. It’s a real shame that Howard did not make the Atlantic Division roster, but the division is loaded with talented goalies. Howard’s status was uncertain after Petr Mrazek played well in the 2015-16 season. However, Howard has emerged as the clear number one. Howard did suffer a lower-body injury at the end of the first half, but says he’s ready to go.
Mrazek has struggled and the Wings haven’t found a market for him. He wasn’t selected in the expansion draft and his shaky play his diminished his trade value. The Czech goalie looked good in spurts against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but will need to play better if he wants more starts.
Jared Coreau is finally turning it around in Grand Rapids after a shaky first half. He’s been on the roster, but has yet to make an appearance this season for the Red Wings.
What to Expect from the Detroit Red Wings
The schedule gets a lot tougher in the second half and we’ll find out if Detroit can contend for a playoff spot. Detroit has struggled in games against their own division as they’re 6-9-2. They’ll need to improve that record if they have a shot at the postseason.
Howard has been the first-half MVP for the Red Wings, but will need Mrazek to revert back to what he did two seasons ago. It’s unrealistic that Howard will continue his stellar play.
Holland will likely stay the course and try to net high draft picks despite his uncertain future. He’s been part of the organization for nearly 30 years, but a change is likely coming.