The upside of a lockout season is how magnified everything is: The Red Wings only have played six games, but every one of them has carried significance and warranted evaluation.

The Wings took Wednesday off, part of coach Mike Babcock's "rest is a weapon" counter to cramming 48 games into 99 days. That's especially important for Jimmy Howard, who has played every minute save 18:45 of every game and who doesn't appear to have a reliever in immediate sight as Jonas Gustavsson only just has started working his way back from a pulled groin.

Howard's consistency has been a good storyline so far; other than opening night in St. Louis, when he was exposed to one breakaway after another, he's been big in net and shouldered the Wings through their numerous slow starts.

Now the rest of the team seems to be catching up, or at least those not named Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner, who provided the offense from the get-go. Valtteri Filppula delivered a big performance with two goals in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Stars. Johan Franzen has points in three straight games. Todd Bertuzzi, 38 on Saturday, is showing why the Wings love their old guys, as he's got three points in three games since returning from a misdiagnosis of mononucleosis.

Overall, the Wings have strung together three strong games, starting last week against Minnesota and continuing at Chicago and against Dallas. The next test comes Friday against the Blues, who together with the Blackhawks and Sharks are running away with the Western Conference.