Detroit News Red Wings midseason grades

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The play of Dylan Larkin, second from left, has been a highlight in the first half.

Go through the gallery for midseason grades and analysis by Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. Go here if you are having trouble viewing the gallery.

As the Red Wings approach the midpoint of their season – Game 41 is Monday against Florida – they’re in a familiar position.

For the third consecutive season, the Wings look like surefire misses for the playoffs.

At their current pace, when late February rolls around, the Wings probably will be shopping veterans – potential unrestricted free agents, such as Gustav Nyquist, maybe Jimmy Howard – while adding those draft picks they’ve done such a good job stockpiling in recent years.

The Wings head into Monday’s game at 15-19-6, with 36 points. Whatever happens Monday, the Wings will be behind the pace of last season (41 points after 41 games) and two seasons ago (40 points after 41 games).

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“We had a good period (in November, 8-4-1) where we just competed and found ways to win,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “Right now, we have to get back to that. We played good hockey, so we know we can do it.”

The Red Wings aren’t heading into the midpoint of the season with any sort of momentum, that’s for sure.

They’re 1-6-1 over their last nine games and 2-7-2 over the last 11. From Dec. 2, in a 14-game stretch, the Wings are 3-8-3.

“We’ve been in a lot of games, but we have to win those games,” said Nyquist, a prime candidate to be dealt before the Feb. 26 deadline. “We had a stretch we were playing good hockey. We have to find a way to get back to that.”

Coach Jeff Blashill has been preaching a mindset of improving daily – possessing a singular focus on the next game and not looking ahead.

“All our focus can be right now is going to play Monday against Florida,” Blashill said. “We need to go in and have a great first shift and hope the next is better, and then keep building from there.

“We have to make sure we’re way better from the drop of the puck.”

If there is a way to salvage this season and make a run at the playoffs, the Wings realize the time to start is now. But with a rugged schedule ahead, injuries mounting, and the special teams struggling, it’s going to be a monumental climb.

“We’re in a stretch where we don’t really care how it looks,” Nielsen said. “We have to find a way to get a win and then hopefully streak something together.”

With the Red Wings’ season at its midpoint, here are individual grades, with the assessments based on the expectations for each player before the season began.