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21 and Counting

Tuesday night, the same way they had done so for 20 straight games, the Detroit Red Wings dominated and beat an opponent in their home arena. This time it was the Dallas Stars in a 3-1 game that solidified Detroit into the history books. With 21 straight home wins, the Wings broke a record for most consecutive home wins. That record is the direct result of a determined, motivated and experienced team who remain unaffected by all the pressure of success other teams give themselves. Detroit simply wins hockey games and wins a lot of hockey games. In this article I am going to highlight what has made Detroit so successful this season and what other teams can learn from the veteran Wings.

  1. Scoring Depth- The Red Wings have always been a deep team and that remains a fact during this current streak. Of the 87 goals scored in those 21 games, 20 of them have come from defencemen. That is a nice bonus knowing that your rear guards can be relied on to not only stop pucks but also score goals. Detroit also got some contributions from its third and fourth lines. During the streak, Drew Miller set a career high in goals with 11 and points with 20, while Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader proved some strong forecheck and some less pretty goals. 
  2. Veteran Leadership- Two other mile stones were also set during this win streak, records that show case how much experience is on the Wings roster. Tomas Holmstrom played in his 1000th game, all with Detroit and the 39 year old forward is still contributing offensively. Also, captain Nick Lidstrom played in his 1550th game which is the most any player has ever played with one team. Those two guys as well as Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Kronwall have all provided veteran leadership that has proved successful during the streak.
  3. Goaltending- The Red Wings have one of the best young goalies in the game, 27 year old Jimmy Howard. A NHL All-Star Howard back stopped the Wings in the first 17 wins with some spectacular saves. However, when he went down with a broken finger in a road game against Vancouver, the record was feared to be lost. But surprisingly, third string goalie Joey MacDonald took over the net and was able to secure the final four wins. The two goalies combined to allow only 31 goals in the streak which is  MacDonald's play in the last week is another example of the Wings' depth and he may even remain as back up over the struggling Ty Conklin.
  4. A Great Coach- Mike Babcock wins every where he goes. As coach of the Anaheim Ducks, he lost in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final. As coach of team Canada, he won Olympic gold. And with the Red Wings he has one Stanley Cup win, a game seven Stanley Cup loss and at least 50 wins every season since 2005. So it is no surprise that it was this successful coach that was able to break the record. He told the media after the 20th win, " We don't really look at it like that. We look at it like you only won one, so that's the approach we take". That is smart coaching. Keeping the players focused and not distracted.
  5. Shootouts- The Wings have never really been successful in the shootouts, until this season. With a 7-1 record in the extra event, the Wings have been able to steal a lot of wins this way. They got three shootout wins at home during the streak and if they are going to keep it going, they will likely need more. 
Josh Beneteau is a young, aspiring journalist. His website is www.jbenny.com and you can follow him on twitter at @jbenny15.  Thanks for reading.

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