By: Adam Gretz
Sitting on top of the NHL standings with 76 points, the Detroit Red Wings are in a rather familiar position as one of the top contenders to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Always a dangerous team come playoff time, the Red Wings domination on home ice this season has to make them one of the scariest teams to match up with in the postseason if they can secure the No. 1 seed and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
After Friday's 2-1 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Wings pushed their home record on the season to 22-2-1, a mark that only one other team in the league can come close to matching -- their central division rivals, the St. Louis Blues, who currently own a 22-3-4 record on home ice.
As of Saturday afternoon, only five points separate the two teams in the standings while St. Louis still has three games in hand. Seeing as how the two teams are nearly unbeatable on their home rinks but are .500 teams on the road (between them the two teams are 44-5-5 at home, but just 25-26-4 on the road) wrapping up the top spot in the division, as well as what could be the top spot in the conference, has to be a top priority for both clubs.
Given the upcoming schedules, you have to like the Red Wings chances. Detroit is currently riding a 19-game winning streak at Joe Louis Arena, the second longest run in NHL history, trailing only the 20 game runs that the 1975-76 Flyers and 1929-30 Boston Bruins achieved (oddly enough, the Red Wings next home game is on Sunday night against the Flyers).
The incredible thing about Detroit's winning streak at home isn't just the number of wins, it's also that a lot of these games haven't even been that competitive. Of the 19 wins 10 of them have been by a margin of three goals or more, and overall they've outscored their opponents by an 80-27 margin.
They're not just beating teams at home, they're crushing them, and they're in the middle of a stretch that has them playing nine of their next 12 games at home.
The Blues? Eight of their next 12 are on the road.
Unless either team does something to reverse the script that's been written through the first half of this season, this looks like a pretty big opporunity for Detroit to open up quite a lead in the Central Division race.
Photo: Getty Images
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