Around the Rink
This week sees Wednesday a little bit busier than most weeks. That’s great, but it also means I am a bit busier in terms of writing injury updates and such. So, I am going to write about a topic that is always on my mind this time of year, at least recently: I’m worried the Detroit Red Wings aren’t going to make the playoffs.
I know I’ve written about the Red Wings, and my fandom, here before. Probably too many times, for those who don’t care about the Red Wings. I care about them, though, and so when I think about the NHL it’s more that I think about the Wings, and then I think about the rest of the league.
My entire hockey watching life has seen the Red Wings make the playoffs. For years, there was no worry about whether or not Detroit would make it into the postseason. It was only a question of whether or not they would win the President’s Trophy, and then whether or not they’d win the Stanley Cup. Those days are gone. For the last four or five seasons, there has been a point where I think to myself, “Oh, this is the year. The Wings aren’t going to make the playoffs.” I’m used to teams I root for not making the playoffs. I’m a Detroit Lions fan. Still, it is going to be weird when the Wings aren’t in the NHL playoffs, and every year I steel myself for it.
Then, of course, they end up making it. The streak hasn’t ended yet. I wasn’t expecting to be worried this year, but now, suddenly, the Philadelphia Flyers are breathing down Detroit’s neck. Of the teams currently in a playoff spot, the Wings have far and away the worst goal differential. They’ve won a ton of one goal games. Do I think they are better than the Flyers? Sure, but not by much. If the Wings don’t play to their potential, they could end up sitting at home.
I do think they’ll hold on, though, to be quickly dispatched by the Washington Capitals. At which point, I will have a respite from worrying they won’t make the playoffs until next season. Then, eventually, they will miss the playoffs, at which point I won’t really have to worry anymore.
Of course, with the Wings losing to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, maybe “eventually” is coming sooner rather than later.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
Islanders (Jean-Francois Berube) at Maple Leafs (Garret Sparks*), 7:00 PM
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford*) at Blues (Jake Allen), 8:00 PM
Predators (Carter Hutton) at Flames (Joni Ortio*), 9:30 PM
Ducks (John Gibson) at Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov*), 10:00 PM
Coyotes (Louis Domingue) at Canucks (Jacob Markstrom), 10:00 PM
Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.
Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday
Calvin de Haan, D (lower-body) – Not close to returning
Mikhail Grabovski, C (upper-body) – Day-to-day
Adam Pelech, D (upper-body) – May be out for season
Marek Zidlicky, D (upper-body) – Did not play Tuesday
Brad Boyes, RW (undisclosed) -- Doubtful
Tyler Bozak, C (head) – Out indefinitely
Byron Froese, C (hand) – Out indefinitely
Matt Hunwick, D (hernia) – Out for season
Joffrey Lupul, LW (abdomen) – Out for season
P.A. Parenteau, RW (upper-body) – Aiming to return Wednesday
Stephane Robidas, D (knee) – Out indefinitely
Raffi Torres, LW (knee) – Out for season
James van Riemsdyk, LW (foot) – Out for season
Marian Hossa, RW (lower-body) – Will likely play Wednesday
Marcus Kruger, C (wrist) – On injured reserve
Brian Elliott, G (lower-body) – On injured reserve
Steve Ott, C (hamstring) – Hoping to return for playoffs
Alexander Steen, LW (upper-body) – Out at least a month
Gabriel Bourque, LW (upper-body) – On injured reserve
Paul Gaustad, C (upper-body) – Out at least four games
Eric Nystrom, LW (foot) – On injured reserve
Jakub Nakladal, D (eye) – Did not play Monday
Karri Ramo, G (knee) – Out for season
Ladislav Smid, D (upper-body) – On injured reserve
Dennis Wideman, D (suspension) – Suspended
Shawn Horcoff, C (suspension) – Suspended 20 games
Brandon Pirri, C (ankle) – On injured reserve
Chris Stewart, RW (jaw) – Out 4-8 weeks
Chris Bigras, D (head) – Did not play Monday
Brad Stuart, D (back) – On injured reserve
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) – On injured reserve
Kyle Chipchura, C (personal) – With expecting wife
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (upper-body) – Day-to-day
Anders Lindback, G (Achilles) – On injured reserve
Zbynek Michalek, D (upper-body) – Day-to-day
Mike Smith, G (lower-body) – Nearing return
Joe Vitale, C (concussion) – Out for season
Alexander Edler, D (leg) – On injured reserve
Jannik Hansen, RW (rib) – Could miss two weeks
Henrik Sedin, C (upper-body) – Did not play Monday
Brandon Sutter, C (jaw) – Out 6-8 weeks
Chris Tanev, D (upper-body) – Did not play Monday
John Carlson, D (lower-body) – On injured reserve
Marian Gaborik, RW (knee) – May return for end of regular season
Matt Greene, D (shoulder) – Out for season
Jordan Nolan, RW (back) – Out indefinitely
Mike Green, D, DET – Green used to be known for his goal scoring prowess, but recently he has been earning his keep with his helpers. Green has five assists in his last four games, although three of those came in one game. It has not been a good season for Green, who has been banged up and only has four goals, so this is probably not the sign of a turnaround this late in the year. Green used to be a very talented offensive player, but this season has been a different story.
Jeff Skinner, C, CAR – From the “Jeff Skinner is good again” files, Skinner lit the lamp twice Tuesday, giving him six points on his last four games. His plus/minus rating is now a nice, even zero, and, more importantly, he has 25 goals on the year (and 41 points). Skinner should score 30 goals once again, and he could potentially set a new career high in goals, if things break right. The Hurricanes are still building for the future, but, right now, Skinner can help your fantasy team.
Erik Karlsson, D, OTT – Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in the league, perhaps the very best. He’s had a great year. He’s probably a Norris finalist. The man plays over 30 minutes a game most nights. Nobody is here to knock Karlsson. However, the fact is that he has zero points in his last four games, where he is a minus-4, and he only has five points in his last 10 games. More to the point, zero of those points are goals. Karlsson’s main value is his playmaking, sure, but he usually chips in some goals, and he’s certainly a little cool at the moment. Not that you should be too worried, though. He’s the kind of player who can turn it on quickly.
Martin Hanzal, C, ARI – There was some talk that the Coyotes might trade the big center this season, but they held onto him… and that hasn’t really paid off. Well, considering losing is better than winning for the Coyotes at the moment, maybe it has. Hanzal has not notched a single point in nine straight games. Before this cold stretch, he was having a perfectly serviceable season, but now that is no longer the case. Whether or not he plays well is not that important to Arizona, but for fantasy owners, trusting in Hanzal at the moment would be a mistake.
Andre Burakovsky, LW, WAS – The Capitals have been great, and they are loaded with talent, including some breakout players such as Evgeny Kuznetsov, so Burakovsky, a solid 21-year-old with just over 100 games of NHL experience to his name, has fallen through the cracks a bit. He has 14 goals and 19 assists in 63 games, and he’s a plus-8 on the year. Recently, he’s played a bit more, as in his last 16 games he’s over 14 minutes of ice time, and he has 11 points in those games. Obviously, there is a ceiling here, because there is only one puck to go around, but Burakovsky is a talented player on the rise surrounded by even more talented players. For a late season pickup, there aren’t many better options.