5 Bold Predictions for Detroit Red Wings in 2nd Half of 2013-14 Season
The Detroit Red Wings' unpredictable, underachieving season rolls on with a slew of regulars missing from the starting lineup.
With so many starters out, it is difficult to make predictions on how the rest of the season will turn out, but the team still holds a playoff seed in the vastly underachieving Eastern Conference.
Though it seems nonsensical to make simple predictions for the remainder of Detroit's season, here are five bold predictions for the remainder of the Wings' season.
A bold prediction in this case, is one that will have the reader either shaking their head or vocally disagreeing with the prediction in question.
Jimmy Howard Will Win 25 Games This Season
Jimmy Howard is having the worst season of his career, both statistically and otherwise. The highlight of his season has to be when Team USA raised eyebrows, picking Howard to be one of three goalies at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
The Red Wings No. 1 goalie has not looked at the top of his game this season and it has showed up in the Red Wings' placing in the standings. With a 7-10-8 record, Howard has played in just 25 of the Red Wings' 44 contests, due to injury and poor performance.
But Howard looked to turn a corner on New Year's Day against the Leafs, allowing just two goals on 26 shots in regulation, losing in a shootout. In his next contest against Dallas, Howard stopped 44 of 45 shots in a 5-1 win.
Howard surrendered four goals in two periods against the San Jose Sharks on January 9, but when looking at his record overall, his eight shootout and overtime losses are clearly indicative of games that could have turned into wins for Howard.
While a 15-10 record (assuming all the extra-time losses were wins) doesn't sound too much better, it is important to note that Howard has still given his team a chance to win in the first two periods, surrendering just 37 goals in 25 games in those periods.
The third period has killed Howard and the Red Wings, as he has given up 27 goals in that period alone.
If Detroit can clamp down on second-intermission leads—winning just 62.5 percent of the time (29th-worst in the NHL)—it should give Howard a chance to get to 25 wins this season.
Pavel Datsyuk Will Score a Career-High 33 Goals This Season
Pavel Datsyuk has been hit by the injury bug this season, forcing him to miss nine of the 44 games, so far. But this season, Datsyuk has already matched his goal total of 15 from last year, but he has done so in 12 fewer games.
Datsyuk has already equaled his shot total from last season (107) in 12 fewer games, meaning he is on track to shoot more for the remainder of the season if he keeps it up. His player page on NHL.com "predicts" that he will finish with 31 goals, assuming he doesn't miss any more games, but that isn't a given either.
But Datsyuk's entire career has been defined by defying predictions and often surpassing expectations.
The two-time 97-point scorer has a career high of 32 goals, but he has only played all 82 games once and has not played more than 70 games since 2009-10.
If the Russian superstar can continue getting shots on goal and get back on the ice in general, he has an outside shot at putting up a career-high in goals.
Kyle Quincey Will Have Second-Most Points Among Red Wings Defenseman
When it comes to Red Wings defensemen that score, there is Niklas Kronwall, and then there is everyone else. Kronwall leads Detroit in scoring from defensemen with 28 points, and he has more points than his next nearest competitors combined.
Enter Kyle Quincey.
Now try not to laugh because Quincey has been nothing short of abysmal on offense in his time in Detroit, with just six points in his first 54 regular season games over two seasons with the Red Wings.
But Quincey, slowly but surely, is coming around offensively. The pending-UFA defenseman has five points in his last 12 games for Detroit and is starting to heat up.
Quincey is beginning to prove his doubters wrong, and although he still has a lot of work to do to live up to his $3.375 million salary, he is slowly turning the corner.
He will finish the second half of the season with the second-most points behind Niklas Kronwall.
Detroit Will Win the Atlantic Division
The Detroit Red Wings have been snake-bitten in shootouts this season.
They set the NHL record for consecutive shootout losses dating back to last year before snapping that streak on December 21 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings have lost an NHL-high 10 times in extra time this season. Conveniently enough, they are 10 points behind the division-leading Boston Bruins.
Put two and two together.
The Red Wings have the talent and the desire to win games, but the team hasn't been fully healthy all season. If they can get their top-six forwards healthy and get Jonathan Ericsson back to help their defense, they could put together a streak of wins at some point this season.
Whether it will be sooner or later is anyone's guess, but Detroit won six of their first eight games this season and they could very well do that again if (and when) they become healthy.
Look for Detroit to win the Atlantic Division and at the very least, challenge for a division title.
Detroit's Special Teams Finish in the Top 5 for Both PK and PP
The Red Wings won six of their first eight games to start the season and their special teams were red-hot. Their power play was over 20 percent at one point and the Wings moved their penalty kill up into the No. 1 spot in the NHL at one point.
Since then, the power play has gone downhill (17.7 percent and 16th in the NHL), while their penalty kill has remained relatively constant (85.0 percent and sixth in the NHL).
Detroit's ability (or perhaps inability) to get healthy over the second half of the season will determine whether their specialty teams have a resurgence over the second half of the season.
If the Wings can get healthy, they can return to top-five status in both categories. This will result in more wins down the road and cement themselves firmly in a playoff position.
Health is a big "if", but it isn't out of the question at this point.
All statistics available on NHL.com.