This is what has gotten the Detroit Red Wings ‘over the cut line’ into playoff spot

Detroit Free Press

Andrew Copp brought it up after the Detroit Red Wings‘ latest victory.

Their measure of swagger headed into their next game grew after they edged inside the playoff picture.

“If everyone feels like they have a part of it, it makes it that much more special,” Copp said. “I think that’s been a key piece, and we just have to continue with that recipe.”

The Wings had just toppled the New York Rangers, 4-1, at Little Caesars Arena. A two-game homestand wraps Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then comes a back-to-back at the Ottawa Senators on Monday and Tuesday, for four games in six nights. The pace is fast, but the Wings are playing with furor: They’ve won seven of their last eight games and nine of their last 12.

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“I think we’re over the cut line right now, that’s what it means to us,” Copp said after contributing a goal and two assists against the Rangers. “I think we’re understanding how to play the game. When we’re getting leads, we’re playing pretty mature. We’re not forcing plays to the middle, we’re not getting too many guys up in the rush. We’re playing pretty solid right now. That’s our recipe. We have to be really strong defensively. Special teams have been rolling pretty good.”

Copp added that “this guy in net has been pretty good, too,” an understatement of the difference Ville Husso has made. He was excellent against the Rangers, who pounded him with 31 shots. But it really speaks to how much the Wings have grown, how mature they’re playing, that they have flipped the score on the types of games they were losing in the first half of the season.

“There’s confidence,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “I want the guys to be comfortable in these types of situations. The guys wanted it so bad, they worked so hard to put themselves in an opportunity like this. I still think we could have managed it a little better, and hopefully we will on Saturday.”

Two nights earlier, it was Pius Suter who had two goals in the victory at Washington. Against the Rangers, Copp and linemates Michael Rasmussen and David Perron each had multi-point performances. Filip Zadina scored the winning goal. Filip Hronek converted on a power play to add an insurance goal in the third period.

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Every line has contributed over the past two weeks, and remarkably, it has come while top-line winger Lucas Raymond has been sidelined by injury. “It’s funny how that always happens,” Copp said. “A top guy goes down and everyone just kind of picks up the slack and rallies. Even with Razer going down, maybe everyone is committed that much more, knowing that we might put up five goals a game but we have to be able to keep them to one or two.”

Special teams, goaltending, and all-around contributions? That’s how the Wings have made a statement that they’re going to do everything possible to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

“We felt like we were playing pretty good before the All-Star break but I think after that Edmonton game, the first one, we’ve played pretty well,” Copp said. “We were like, all right, if we are going to make a push, this is the time to do it. Especially leading up to the trade deadline, everyone knows what that means. This push has been great timing for us. Especially being on the road for 10 days, I think we got closer as a team in those 10 days, and winning helps.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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