Red Wings Tough 2nd Half Schedule Will Have Some Surprises

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The second half of the season could be a long one for the Detroit Red Wings. And according to a few sites, they’re going to have their hands full.

Red Wings fans have already seen it with games against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team they could have had a better showing against. The Hawks came in on a four game losing streak but absolutely took it to the Red Wings in an 80’s style 8-5 victory Wednesday night. Detroit came back from an early 4-0 deficit, but still looked brutal at stretches–especially on the backend.

Then inexplicably, they not only hold their own against Pittsburgh, but sneak away with a 3-2 shootout win where Detroit held two leads.

So expect the unexpected over these next four months? Or go into the stretch with more realistic expectations?

With few teams to face that the Red Wings have a definitive advantage over, it’s going to challenge even the most ardent Detroit fan to not overreact at times watching what could be a tough stretch. But like Friday showed, there could be some nice surprises along the way.

The All Star Break will be a good breath for the Red Wings

Between the Pittsburgh Penguins last night and the  Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, Detroit then hosts Anaheim and Los Angeles on Monday and Wednesday respectively before waiting a week following All Star Game weekend. It may be a much needed break, as both LA and Anaheim beat the Wings earlier this month.

The break should allow for the Red Wings to gather their bearings while possibly getting some players back who could help. Without Gustav Lindstrom, and Troy Stecher, Detroit has had to rely heavily on players who necessarily aren’t able to contribute with heavier minutes. The return of Jakub Vrana, at any point, will also help scoring, but that still remains undetermined.

Regardless of what happens during the second half, one has to be mindful of the challenge the schedule presents as they go forward.

Patience and Context Necessary in the Second Half

Much has been said–and asked–about Jeff Blashill’s future. Rumors swirl about the future of Filip Zadina in Detroit. Danny DeKeyser has found himself to be the new fanbase piñata in the mold of Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, and Jonathan Ericsson.

But then there’s the positives: Moritz Seider being an absolute beast against Sidney Crosby, showing he can hang with the elite of the NHL. Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi leading the scoring brigade. Lucas Raymond continuing to do develop and burying the shootout goal that delivered a victory for the Red Wings. Zadina scoring a goal! The good is happening–and will–amidst a tough schedule.

But in the end, all of it is just noise–good or bad–to the Captain.  Steve Yzerman, during his intermission interview with TNT on Wednesday, addressed exactly what he thought of any musings that don’t come from within his four walls. From Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now:

Next, Yzerman sought to let everyone know – Red Wings fans, media who cover the team, supporters, critics – that he really wastes no time whatsoever weighing their opinions on anything to do with the team.

“I just try to stay away from it,” Yzerman suggested of any outside influences. “Honestly, I know what’s going to be said anyway. When things go well I know what’s going to be said and when things don’t go well, I know what’s going to be said. So it really is irrelevant.

Yzerman goes onto extol his virtue of patience and belief in his system of doing things–which is exactly what Red Wings fans should hope to hear.  Regardless of where anyone stands, Steve Yzerman doesn’t give a damn of what any of us think, myself included.

And God knows I have plenty of opinions about this team. As does every other Red Wings fan.  As has been seen for the last nearly three years now, Yzerman’s going to do whatever he’s going to do.

It’s not to say that the hypothesizing isn’t fun–it certainly is. The analysis and banter on social media and elsewhere can be thought provoking as well.

But with a slate of tough games over the next few months, if you’re looking for a guide in how to watch, take it in stride.

Because little things like this will happen–and make us appreciate how far along this team has come.

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