Seven points out of the playoffs, inside the inner workings of the Detroit Red Wings, they still believe they can get to the postseason.
“Definitely we’re not going to fold it up,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Right now, we need points and we’ve got to find a way to get them.”
This is an entirely understandable sentiment. And it is also completely delusional. The Wings will be required to leapfrog five teams in order to qualify for the playoffs, including both of their weekend opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes (Saturday) and New York Rangers (Sunday).
Soon - perhaps following their upcoming five-game road trip that gets underway Sunday at Madison Square Garden - the Wings will finally give up this ghost, and when they do, that should be very good news for Jared Coreau.
Recalled from AHL Grand Rapids when Petr Mrazek was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday to serve as Howard’s backup, Coreau is headed toward unrestricted free agency, so this is his last chance to prove to the Wings that he has a future with the organization. But it’s unlikely he’ll get that chance until the team is officially eliminated from the playoff picture.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill is loathe to reveal his starting goalie beforehand. The Wings didn’t skate Saturday morning, so there was no tip off from the game-day skate. But it’s likely Howard will play both games this weekend.
“It’s an opportunity to take a step forward in my career, but the ultimate goal here is to get wins,” Coreau said. “We’re only seven points back of a playoff spot and I think everyone’s on board.
“Guys believe we’re going to get in. I think that’s where it starts with, the belief. It’s good for my career, but it’s also good that everyone is still hungry to get into the playoffs.”
Discussing his goaltending rotation, Blashill certainly made it sound as if Coreau’s time will come later rather than sooner.
“I’m obviously fully aware that Jimmy plays great at Madison Square Garden,” Blashill said. “I’m also aware that Carolina is a team we’ve got to track down in order to make the playoffs. I’ll make those decisions, but those things will factor into it.
“We’re trying to win hockey games here right now. I certainly believe Jared Coreau is a good goalie. Jimmy Howard is a proven very good NHL goalie. I’m going to put the lineup out there that gives us the best chance to win right now.
“We’ve got life in us, we got fight in us, so I’m not looking at it from a standpoint of his personal development. I’m looking at it as, ‘Who do I put out there to give us the best chance to win?’”
After originally speculating that defenseman Mike Green (upper-body injury) would return to action Saturday, instead, he will miss his fifth straight game, which leads us down one of Blashill’s favorite paths, the two-forked one.
One, Green is legitimately hurt and can’t play, or two, the Wings are close to moving Green and are utilizing the injury as an excuse to keep him out until the deal is finalized.
We will know the answer no later than Monday at 3 p.m. EST, when the NHL trade deadline passes.
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