Once they could regularly practice the Red Wings started winning
On Detroit and how January's schedule and practice time have changed the team.
The Detroit Red Wings were awful in December.
They went 4-9-2 in the final month of 2023 and for those doubting the trajectory in Detroit, this was the bottom falling out on 2024 being a potential playoff year.
But, in January of 2024, the Red Wings have gone 7-1-1 after a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
The Red Wings aren’t only first in the wild card race this morning, but also one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.
Well, if you look at it from Derek Lalonde’s perspective, the Red Wings actually got to practice.
Between Dec. 7 and 31 the Red Wings played 13 games and had three league-mandated off days for the NHL’s holiday break Dec. 24-26. When you factor in the mandatory full day off once every seven days, the Red Wings could only practice a max of 6 times during that span by CBA rules.
And realistically speaking, there isn’t much a team can do practice wise with back-to-backs and a pair of 3-in-4s during that stretch.
“That was a schedule of hell,” Lalonde said. “Every team has that in their schedule. Our happened to come in December, and it was a little more egregious than most. But that combined with us being injured and not practicing, we didn’t handle it well.”
Twenty-two days into January, the Red Wings have already had 12 available practice days. Coincidence or causation, the game results have Detroit back into the playoff discussion.
Lalonde said as a team, you can have meetings and discussions all you want, but without having proper practices and time to drill down as a group on the ice, it can be a challenge — especially for a team that’s still building it’s identity in Detroit.
And that’s one of the reasons Lalonde isn’t one of the NHL coaches that has decided to ditch the morning skate on game day.