The Detroit Red Wings are tied for the Atlantic Division lead, but still have room to improve.
The Detroit Red Wings lineup is littered with human highlight reels.
Pavel Datsyuk alone puts video game moves to shame and continues to embarrass his colleagues while making the impossible look easy. Henrik Zetterberg has a flair for the dramatic and an innate ability to make hard work look effortless.
The Red Wings are second in the Atlantic Division with a record of 9-5-3 through 17 games. In those first 17 games, they have produced a wide array of noteworthy plays at both ends of the ice. Between world-class talents like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Jimmy Howard, it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just five plays.
Based on three criteria, this writer was able to do just that. Each play was ranked based on their significance in the game, the skill and hockey sense necessary to make the play, and the overall beauty and flare it was executed with.
Without further ado, here are the top five highlights of the Detroit Red Wings’ 2013-14 season so far.
Henrik Zetterberg scored his seventh goal of the season at the 17:15 mark of the first period in a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Off the faceoff, Pavel Datsyuk dug for the puck in the corner against defenseman Joe Colborne and kicked it out to Todd Bertuzzi who sent a beautiful backhand pass to Henrik Zetterberg for the goal.
Bertuzzi’s showed excellent hockey sense knowing where his linemate Zetterberg would be in that situation and delivered a pinpoint pass. Zetterberg’s shot was placed perfectly above a sprawling Joey MacDonald and gave Detroit a 2-0 lead.
The goal was another display of the skill Detroit’s first line possesses and how difficult they are to contain.
Just past the halfway point of their game against Vancouver, Jimmy Howard made a tremendous save on Daniel Sedin after receiving a pass from twin-brother Henrik.
Trailing 1-0 in the second period, Daniel Sedin received a transition pass over the blue line and fed Henrik across the slot when Jimmy Howard made a brilliant sliding save across the goal crease. Howard’s magnificent stop kept Detroit within one of the Canucks; a game Detroit would ultimately win, 2-1.
The timing of Howard’s save on Vancouver’s top stars provided a spark for the club, and Daniel Alfredsson would tie the game just 1:32 seconds later. Howard’s lateral mobility and vision to read the play swung the momentum in Detroit’s favor. The win ended a four-game losing streak and is certainly worthy of the fourth spot on our list.
We all know that Pavel Datsyuk is a magician with the puck, and this goal is just another addition to his laundry list of impressive highlights.
With a 2-1 lead in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers, Datsyuk deposited a backhand from the top of the circles for the team’s third power-play goal and ultimately the game-winner. Datsyuk’s awareness of the space and time he has is paramount, and his craftiness catches goaltender Ray Emery off balance.
The puck movement on the power play only enhances the skill and sense on display for the goal. Datsyuk finished but the puck movement between Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall opened up the ice for him. The goal was a back-breaker early in the period, and Detroit would go on to win, 5-2.
With Detroit clinging to a 1-0 lead in the second period against the New York Rangers, Jimmy Howard faces a two-on-one and denies Brian Boyle not once, but twice.
Rangers forward Derek Dorsett collides with Howard after he makes the initial save and dives across the net without a stick to rob Boyle a second time. There’s no definite fundamental training to make a recovery save like this, and Howard’s desperation play came up huge for the Red Wings.
These were two of his 37 total saves on the night. Detroit would ultimately lose 3-2 in overtime, but at this point in the game Howard brilliantly preserved Detroit’s one-goal lead.
The “Euro-twins” put on another clinic, this time to the chagrin of Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins.
Pavel Datsyuk picks up the puck in the neutral zone after it hops over the stick of Patrice Bergeron and proceeds to tuck it through Chara’s skates and feeds Henrik Zetterberg, who deposits the puck behind Tuukka Rask.
The goal was an important start on the road against the defending Eastern Conference champs and new division rival. Detroit would win the game, 3-2, and it served as the second of four consecutive wins.
Each club’s broadcast team admired the elite skill level demonstrated by the dynamic duo—and rightfully so. To take the puck from a player like Bergeron and weave through Chara takes tremendous ability, and to finish the play from such a tough angle is simply remarkable.
Not only is it the top play on this list, but it was one of the best plays in the NHL so far this season.