Red Wings move back into 8th
DETROIT — The Red Wings are in tunnel-vision mode right now, and it appears to be working for them as they aim for the postseason.
You ask captain Henrik Zetterberg about things turning around for the team since the debacle in Calgary a week ago and this is his response:
“My memory’s not that good, so I don’t remember what happened in Calgary,” Zetterberg said. “We’re just focused on day by day.”
The Wings looked focused Wednesday, resulting in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The victory comes after a 4-0 shutout of the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.
Those four points gave them 52 in 46 games and moved them ahead of the idle Columbus Blue Jackets (51 points in 46 games) into eighth place in the Western Conference.
If the Wings get three more points in their final two games, they’ll be in the playoffs for the 22nd straight season.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall said the Wings can’t afford to think about the big picture.
“For us, we really don’t have a choice right now,” Kronwall said. “We have to stick to the plan. It might sound like a cliche and I know it’s boring maybe to hear, but it’s one at a time.”
The Wings got two of their goals from expected sources, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, but the game-winner came from Jordin Tootoo, who played just over seven minutes in the game.
“Anytime you can contribute as a fourth-line player it’s always exciting,” Tootoo said. “You don’t get to do that too often, but when you do you’ve got to make the best of it.”
Tootoo, Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves were recognized by the coach for their efforts.
“I thought that line was real good,” Mike Babcock said. “… They dominated from the get-go.”
The Wings now face the situation the Kings were in Wednesday, playing the second of back-to-back nights. The rested Nashville Predators, out of the playoff race, come in with nothing to lose.
The good news for the Wings is, they’ve been successful in back-to-back games, going 7-4-1 in the first game and 7-2-2 in the second.
“Not being cute with it, getting it in, just going to work, playing simple hockey — I think that’s been the key for us in back-to-back games this year,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who confirmed he’s playing Thurday. “We’ve been really good on the second night of back-to-backs. I think it comes down to making the safe play.”
If the Wings continue to stay focused on the task at hand, make the safe, simple plays and get contributions from everyone, their playoff streak will continue.
The Wings are not dwelling on that, but they know what’s at stake.
“We have to get these points or we’re not going to be playing next week,” Eaves said. “We just have to keep winning. That’s all we can do.”