The Detroit Red Wings feel fortunate to still be in the playoff race as they reach the midpoint of their season dealing with numerous injuries.
The Red Wings begin 2010 with a matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night in the opener of a five-game road trip.
Detroit (20-14-6) will be halfway through its schedule after Saturday’s contest, and sits in 10th place in the West - two points out of a playoff spot. That is due in part to a season-long rash of injuries that has the Wings missing forwards Henrik Zetterberg(notes), Johan Franzen(notes) and Danny Cleary(notes) along with defensemen Jonathan Ericsson(notes) and Niklas Kronwall(notes), among others.
“We’ve got to continue to battle and get points and move up in the standings,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) said. “That’s the way we’re looking at it. We have a lot of guys out and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
The Red Wings have lost three straight on the road, the last two by shutout. Phoenix (25-13-4) could be a difficult place to break through, as the Coyotes won a franchise-record 10 straight at home before a 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose on Thursday.
Detroit ended its streak of 13 straight games with three goals or fewer in a 4-2 victory over Colorado on Thursday. Darren Helm(notes) scored two goals, both short-handed, to break his 11-game run without one.
“It felt great. Been struggling a little bit, getting chances,” Helm said. “Nice to see the puck go in the net.”
“It’s a great win. We played hard and fought. It was good,” Howard said.
The Coyotes were not as happy with their effort Thursday in their first home loss since Nov. 16, and first to a West opponent since Nov. 2. Coach Dave Tippett said his team was outplayed after outshooting the Sharks 18-5 in the first period.
“We were fortunate to get out of the game with a point,” Tippett said. “We had a good burst of energy early, had shots but not a lot of quality. Then they started competing at a level where we didn’t get to.”
Tippett has the Coyotes in excellent position with the third-highest point total in the conference at 54. Phoenix tied Los Angeles for the second-fewest points in the West last season.
This is the third meeting between the teams. Each posted a 3-2 home victory, with Phoenix winning in a shootout Oct. 22.