Dateline: Anaheim, CA, 29 October 08: Through the first ten games of the 2008/9 season, the Detroit Red Wings are at +3 against the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), with a record of 7-1-2. As a result of their efforts, the Red Wings have become the third team to clinch a playoff berth and are Chasing Stanley. PLUS: The Wings are currently scoring at a torrid pace, averaging 3.70 goals/game (2nd in the NHL)...Just as you might think, the Power Play is en fuego, as well, showing opponents that crime doesn't pay 31.8% of the time (2nd)...Detroit is also putting more pucks on net than any other team, with an average of 39.3 shots/game...The Red Wings might be the best counter-punching team in the NHL, demonstrating the Alternate Scoring Response (ASR) 6 times in 5 games...Hossa's play through the first ten games has been nothing less than inspired - his 5G, 9A speaks volumes about his desire to hoist the Cup next June....MINUS: While the Wings seemed to score at will, they've allowed opponents to put far too many pucks in the net, as their 3.30 goals against/game average attests (24th in the NHL)...Detroit's 21st-ranked Penalty Kill hasn't helped, shutting down opposing power plays just 78.4% of the time...Part of the blame must fall on Osgood, who has been sub-par in the early part of the season, as his Goals Against Average of 3.21 (27th in the NHL) and Save Percentage of .884 (28th) indicate...In 07/08, the Wings allowed a league-best 23.5 shots/game, but this season, they're allowing 29.1 shots/game (13th)...While the Red Wings continue to win games, they're not dominating opponents - 5 of the Wings' 7 victories have been by one goal.
Through the next ten games, expect Detroit to play along or slightly below the PQC. The Red Wings face a tough travel schedule, beginning Games 11-20 with a trip to SJS and VAN. They return home to face NJD and PIT, then head to Florida for games against TBL and FLA. After a brief stop at The Joe for a tilt with EDM, the Wings again head west, for three games against EDM, CGY and VAN (again). OGA is still waiting for the "Stanley Cup hangover" to kick in, and the combination of travel to both coasts and the quality of opponents might just be the catalyst. Post-Lockout, the Wings have found themselves an average of +4.5 against the PQC at Game 20, but they will be hard-pressed to maintain that average in 08/09.