While most teams in the National Hockey League tend to perform better in front of their own fans on home ice, the Detroit Red Wings have taken things to another level. They almost look like a completely different team when playing at Little Caesars Arena than when playing on the road. Detroit have picked up points in nine of their first 11 games at home – including seven victories – while on the road, they’ve earned points in just four of 11 games, with just three wins.
The players and staff are aware of the difference between their home and road records, while understanding the importance the fans play in that.
“I think they’ve been awesome,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said, via mlive.com. “I know the roads weren’t great today so it’s hard for everybody to get down here, but I thought the crowd was great tonight. The energy in this building has been great. I think that’s a huge reason why we’re 7-2-2. It gives so much momentum to our guys when the crowd is like that.”
With their 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on Saturday night, the Red Wings have now won three consecutive games on home ice for the first time in nearly two years.
“We play well here,” said Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, via mlive.com. “The fans have been showing up, the atmosphere’s been great. We’re just excited to be here. It was a long year without fans. We missed them a ton. To have them back and to play in this building, some of the loudest moments that I’ve heard here since it’s been open have happened this year. We got to keep going to make sure there’s louder moments and we’re right there in a playoff spot, where we want to be.”
Larkin provided a crucial pass in overtime against the Sabres that led to rookie Lucas Raymond scoring the winner. Raymond has been a real bright spot for the Red Wings this season, scoring nine goals and providing 12 assist in his first 22 games played. He leads all rookies in points, goals and assists.
“Confidence and skill, and being good,” Larkin said of the rookie. “It was one-on-three, he got a shot, and he took it, and it went in. Our line was all over it all night and we didn’t get one, and then he got one when it counted.”
Raymond has also made quite the impression on his coach as well.
“He’s got talent and confidence for sure,” Blashill said. “Not a lot of guys are scoring from there. He’s got a really good shot. I thought Razor got better as the game went along. I thought early he wasn’t moving his feet enough and I thought as the game went along, he got much better.”
The Red Wings still have a long way to go before they make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, but if they can find a way to play on the road the same way that they have been playing at home then few teams in the league will be able to stop them.