A 3-2 win over the Cup Favorite Boston Bruins tonight, the Detroit Red Wings are a team peaking at the right time and slowly getting healthy as Pavel Datsyuk is just days away from returning to the lineup.
Detroit’s thrilling win over the Bruins moves them three points ahead of Columbus for the final wildcard spot and with 10 days left in the regular season, the Penguins and Red Wings appear on a collision course to meet in the first round of the playoffs.
With tonight’s win Sportsclubstats.com lists a 64.5% chance of the Penguins facing the the Red Wings in Round 1. That’s not particularly good news for the Penguins.
Of the four teams with a legitimate chance of winning one of the final wildcard spots, Detroit, Columbus, Washington, and Toronto, Detroit is the toughest matchup of the four for Pittsburgh.
Many say the Bruins earning the No. 1 seed in the conference is not a big deal but the Penguins stumbling since the Olympic break gives them a much tougher road to get out of the East in facing the top wildcard team in Round 1 if things stand pat and it’s indeed Pittsburgh – Detroit.
To get out of the East, Pittsburgh’s road could include facing Detroit in Round 1, New York or Philadelphia (two darkhorse Cup contenders) in Round 2 and Boston in Round 3. Would be a much tougher road than last year when they faced the Islanders and Senators in the first two rounds, two inferior teams.
In a matter of about 10 days, Detroit is starting to be a team that is getting people’s attention and a team that could cause the Penguins problems.
- A key has been Jimmy Howard. He is starting to find his form from last season and has the ability to steal a series like he almost did against Chicago last spring.
- Gustav Nyquist has emerged as a budding star, true game breaker, and is one of the most exciting players in the game.
- You can’t overlook the Mike Babcock factor. He’s a great coach and he excels with in game adjustments. He won’t have a problem getting the matchups he wants against the Penguins coaching staff.
- Pavel Datsyuk is obviously a huge X-factor. If the Red Wings can get something out of him, then things could get really interesting.
Back to Nyquist. He made Zdeno Chara look like Deryk Engelland tonight blowing by him for the game winning goal. Every time I watch Nyquist I always think of this:
The Penguins selected forward Nathan Moon in the 4th round of the 2008 draft with the 120th overall pick. Guess who was selected one pick later at 121st overall……….Gustav Nyquist.