The Detroit Red Wings are keeping pace with the playoff favorites of the Eastern Conference with a quarter of the season in the books.
Andreas Anthanasiou rejoining the team after holding out on a contract resigning has provided a spark for the Wings.
The Wings young stars have certainly showed up to play at the beginning of the season. Anthony Mantha currently leads the team with 10 goals while Dylan Larkin has chipped in 16 assists and a total of 20 points in 21 games.
The team would have the final wild card spot if the playoffs were to start now.
The Eastern Conference is full of strong, young, and talented teams that will no doubt challenge the Wings as they attempt to hold onto that playoff spot throughout the season.
Three teams currently trail the Wings by one point in the standings while two others are only three points back.
The Wings may have teams close on their tail but the same holds true for those ahead of the Wings. With how close the standings are, they are only nine points back from the conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
Later in the season that would seem like an impossible goal to pass the Lightning, but this early in the season anything is possible.
The Wings have played a solid two-way system this year with a bit more emphasis on the offensive side of the game then they have in the past.
Using the speed from Larkin, Mantha, and Anthanasiou has helped open up the ice for the young team and has lead to numerous odd-man rushes that the forwards have capitalized on.
The gaping hole for the team has been their penalty kill. The NHL has made an emphasis this year on stick infraction penalties and the Wings have been unable to stay disciplined at times.
Their last game against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 19 yielded six power play chances to the Avalanche because of this lack of discipline.
They have also lost forward Luke Witkowski to a ten game suspension after a line brawl erupted between the Wings and the Calgary Flames. He would next be able to play on Dec. 11 against the Florida Panthers.
The Red Wings have had solid goaltending from Jimmy Howard with a .928 save percentage. The good goaltending numbers are not capable of holding off every powerplay chance on their own, though.
The season is still young with plenty of time for adjustments to be made before the playoff push truly begins for the Wings. If the standings hold true throughout the season that playoff spot could come right down to the outcome of the final game of the season.