Wings midseason grades: New look nets similar success

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Rookie Dylan Larkin (facing forward) has 14 goals, and has helped keep the Red Wings in the playoff hunt through the first half of the season.

Detroit — A lot has changed for the Red Wings since the midpoint of the regular season schedule last season — then again, some things haven't.

They have a new coach, Jeff Blashill replacing Mike Babcock who is now in Toronto.

Veterans like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall are crucial factors in the everyday lineup.

But, this season, the arrival of Dylan Larkin and the continued development of Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Danny DeKeyser is changing the look of the team.

Another thing doesn't change much.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter who is wearing those Red Wings jerseys, they seem to win.

The Red Wings head into the midway juncture of the schedule Thursday in San Jose — Game 41 — and they're right about where they were last season.

Even with a new coach and several new looks in the lineup, the Red Wings are exactly where they were last season.

In third place of the Atlantic Division, with 47 points and 20-13-7 record.

They had 51 points last season, with a 21-10-9 record.

Browse a gallery of Ted Kulfan's midseason grades above. Mobile users can click here.

The Red Wings enter the halfway point with two impressive victories – following a three-game losing streak – and about to play four games on the West Coast.

Confidence is again rising.

"It's a league where your confidence is a big factor," Blashill said. "It can come and go quick so the two wins in a row and the fashion in which we played should help us with confidence."

With the continued maturation of players such as Larkin, Mrazek, Tatar, Nyquist, among others, there's a good chance the Red Wings should be in the thick of the playoff race yet again.

But with a difficult schedule ahead and closely packed standings, the Red Wings know they can't afford any extended slump.

"We got to make sure we get our wins and we're playing solid hockey," Mike Green said. "Because we know it's going to be tough."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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