Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/19/12

Home cooking will be a more than welcome sign for the Detroit Red Wings.  After a four game road trip in which the Wings failed to record a win and tallied just one point, they return to Joe Louis Arena to play seven of their last ten games.

While the Red Wings were struggling to put anything together, their division counterpart St Louis Blues were busy becoming the first NHL team to secure a spot in the postseason.  The Blues also became the first team to reach 100 points, and the Central Division title is all but gone for Detroit.

Since their NHL-record 23 game home winning streak was snapped in late February, the Red Wings have gone 3-6-2 and dropped from first to fifth in the Western Conference.

Despite being in first place for nearly a month and breaking an NHL record for most consecutive home wins, the Red Wings would not have home ice advantage if the playoffs started today.

Luckily for Detroit, they don’t.

Their task will get tougher, however, as speedster Darren Helm has been added to an injured reserve that already includes defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson.

I elected to give you the bad news first this time around, but hold on- there is good news too.

Star center iceman Pavel Datsyuk made his return in Detroit’s last game, a 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose.  Although the Wings lost the game, Datsyuk looked as if he never missed a beat, let alone 11 games.  Datsyuk provided a spark for Detroit, and continues to be the best in the world at skating the puck into the offensive zone.

Lidstrom also skated for 30 minutes today, a good sign that he will return before postseason play begins.  If the Wings can get back to full health by playoff time, they will be a contender home or away.

Coach Mike Babcock has remained positive to some extent with his team’s effort, as the team’s record over the last few weeks has been largely due to injuries.  Babcock has been more or less satisfied with his team’s play given the number of guys hurt, and I agree with him.  When healthy, the Red Wings will once again return to their spot among the game’s elite.

What to watch for

The Red Wings look to right the ship back at home tonight against Washington

Upcoming schedule

Monday vs. Washington (7:30pm, FSD)

Wednesday @ NY Rangers (7:30pm, NBCSP)

Saturday vs. Carolina (7:00pm, FSD+)

 

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny

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