Detroit Red Wings Preview: Closing the Gap Defensively

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The Detroit Red Wings didn’t give up a deluge of goals during its 2-1 loss against Tampa Bay Saturday afternoon. For those who were questioning why Valtteri Filppula and Frans Nielsen were in the lineup, that’s exactly why. Not only was it a decision to bolster them defensively, but the veterans in theory will calm nerves as the “here we go again” mantra creeps into the psyche.

The opposite holds true, too. While it helps defensively, it hinders offensively and once again, the Red Wings were scraping for goals. The Lightning controlled the play while keeping the Red Wings on the outside on offensive chances. Darren Helm got an obligatory breakaway and was stoned, but there’s an argument to be made that there was a hook on the play.

After giving up the second goal, the Red Wings kept Tampa at bay in a game that would have gotten out of control a few months ago–and especially a year ago. Though it hasn’t felt like it at times, it’s an improvement from season’s past.

It will most likely be more of the same this afternoon, with the Wings playing catch up but keeping things just close enough to stay in it. It’s where things get interesting as the trade deadline looms with just over a week to go. Are veterans being showcased for contenders? Are younger players in Grand Rapids ready should roster spots open up as a result? Questions abound and this afternoon should help answer more of those questions.

Red Wings Being Tested Again and Again

The schedule doesn’t get any easier–as a suddenly scorching hot Nashville team follows the defending champs on the schedule. The tight, defensive minded Red Wings staying in games against teams they really have no business hanging with is hardly a treat visually, but still shows the growth needed to take the next step.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.

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