By Darren Eliot –
If you’re a Red Wings fan, all you can think about is their implausible 0-0-5 record over their past five games. How you view that depends on your sensibility. Certainly, there is frustration for all involved in not picking up those all-important bonus points available in overtime and then the shootout.
The Wings have fallen in three straight shootouts after consecutive OTLs in their previous two games. Taken individually, these outcomes run the gamut of emotions. Against the Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals, the team had third-period leads, thus feeling as if they let a point in the standings slip away. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets and N.Y. Islanders, the Wings heroically tied those games up in the third period.
On Long Island Saturday night, Pavel Datsyuk scored with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson on the bench for the extra attacker. What an uplifting moment and a satisfying one at that, with the Red Wings playing the second of back-to-back games. Taken by itself, stealing a point in that situation is an acceptable outcome against a young, aggressive and rested Islanders squad. But in the context of this five-game ripple, securing a point loses a bit of the usual feel-good flavor.
So at the quarter poll of the season, what does it all mean? The team has only five losses in regulation, which is an excellent number through 21 games. Yet, they have just nine regulation or overtime wins (ROW), giving them 25 points in 21 games. That sum underscores the points yielded in extra time, but still leaves the Wings just three points back in the Atlantic Division race and firmly in the top eight – five points clear of the 9th place Ottawa Senators.
All in all, the Wings have survived the second 10-game segment. Yes, a few of those single points via bonus hockey would have them closer to where they envision themselves being in the standings. But, without a few of those third-period rallies, the team would be in a fight just to stay in the top eight of the standings. The OT anomaly that the Wings are currently experiencing is ironic in its timing, with GM Ken Holland presenting a change to the OT format at the recently held GM meetings. Coincidence or karma?
Either way, the Wings can’t wait to break through with a two-point outcome in their favor, regardless of how it comes about.