Tyler Bertuzzi on how the young players are behind the Wings' recent hot streak. The Detroit News
Detroit — The victories, they keep coming for the Red Wings.
That won’t make a segment of the fan base happy, given it’ll likely decrease the Wings’ odds of picking first (or maybe second or third) overall.
But if you’re Wings’ fan, how can you be disappointed with another victory, this one Friday 4-0 over the New Jersey Devils?
With the victory, the Wings (70 points) moved three points past New Jersey (67), five past Los Angeles (65) and 10 over the NHL’s worst team, Ottawa (60).
With each point, the Wings are escaping the bottom three of the league.
If anything, the Wings are within four points of several teams with the possibility of moving further up in the standings in this final week of the regular season.
“After the trade deadline, we lost our way a little bit,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “To see us kind of regroup, you’re not going to win every night, but our guys are competing like crazy and working like crazy, and our goaltending has been huge.
“We talked about making sure we’re not in this situation a year from now, that we’re pushing for a better future, and in order to do that, you have to do it the right way, play the right way and build your game, and we’re continuing to do that.”
Tyler Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists, Dylan Larkin a goal and an assist, and Andreas Athanasiou joined Larkin in the 30-goal club with his 30th goal with just under two minutes left in the game.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier started and stopped 21 shots through two periods, but didn’t come out for the third period because of an upper body injury. Jimmy Howard finished up making seven saves.
The Wings (30-38-10) won their fourth consecutive game and sixth in the last seven.
“We’re playing hard, we’re not giving up on the season,” Larkin said. “Everyone is playing for something, everyone is playing hard and everyone wants to come into training camp next year and have a role.”
DeKeyser opened the scoring midway in the first period off a fabulous feed from Larkin.
DeKeyser cut to the net from the point and Larkin, near the half wall, found him with a perfect slap pass with DeKeyser tapping the puck past goalie Mackenzie Blackwood for his fifth goal.
Then, just 2:12 into the second period, Larkin drove through the slot and pounced on a fine centering pass from Bertuzzi, Larkin snapping his 31st goal past Blackwood.
“You don’t want to give up, it would be a drag for the last three or four weeks of the season if you’re just throwing your sticks out there and you don’t care,” Larkin said. “We got embarrassed a couple of games after the deadline, but we’ve regrouped.”
Bernier's injury, incidentally, was only the latest in what has been a deluge of injuries that have struck the Wings in the final weeks of the season.
Blashill wasn’t sure about Bernier’s availability for Sunday’s game against Boston, and he also doubted Thomas Vanek would be ready to play although Frans Nielsen and Jonathan Ericsson could potentially be ready.
But the injuries have offered opportunities for prospects and minor leaguers.
Making his NHL debut Friday was defenseman Jake Chelios, son of the Red Wings' Hall of Famer Chris Chelios,
Coach Jeff Blashill on what has spurred the Wings' late-season win streak The Detroit News
Chelios, 28, was credited with two hits and one block in 17 minutes, 11 seconds, and was a plus-1.
“He’s put a lot of years in and to get an opportunity now, is deserved,” Blashill said. “Jake wasn’t fazed by the moment, he didn’t play on his heels, he played on his toes. He handled himself very well.”