Back on Track for the Playoffs: The Detroit Red Wings

Nolan Weatherby, Contributing Writer

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The captain of a hockey team brings a lot of courage and determination onto the ice for his team. He is the embodiment of each franchise, offering the best combination of skill and character that other players will benefit from. For the Detroit Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg has been the captain since 2013, and he’s been a rock for the team. But, he dropped a bombshell before the 2018 season started by retiring due to degenerative back problems. This changed everything.

During the preseason games, the Wings only lost one game, ending 7-1 with many new rookies playing. Veterans like Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and Danny Dekeyser were all sidelined with injuries, and this team was playing with an outstanding vigor. Once news of Zetterberg got out to the general public, fans were left wondering how this season would turn out with him gone.

 

The absence of their captain really affected the Wings performance in the beginning of the season. They only won one in the first 10 games of the season (1-7-2). They were making really nice goals, but teams like the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers were able to tie the game back up late in the third period or just sweep the Wings early because they looked like a bunch of amateurs. The defense was filled with players called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins who had potential but just didn’t know the ropes of the NHL. There wasn’t a captain to look to, and most fans thought that this season was going to be a wash.

 

Thankfully, something changed within the Red Wings roster after those awful games. The Wings’ coach, Jeff Blashill, named Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen as two new alternate captains, giving a boost of courage to the younger players. Veterans came back from injuries, making the puck game much stronger by the opponents’ nets. The next 10 games resulted in a 8-2-0 record, and those who watched from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit went wild for the great wins against tough opponents.

 

A month later, the team has been back and forth with their wins and losses. As of today, their record is about .500, but I wouldn’t worry. They have been playing really hard almost day after day, and that’s really hard to keep up. This rush of energy resulted in a great win against conference opponents like the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, but it’s clear that they are tired and need a break before the next series of games. This season started off horribly, but the Detroit Red Wings are showing us here in Michigan that there is still hope for a playoff appearance in 2019. All we have to do is go along for the ride and route for the most accomplished professional team in our great state. They deserve it after years of legendary games.