Horrifying. Embarrassing. Any time Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock uses the phrase, “We weren’t prepared to compete at a high enough level” during his first period interview, you know any negative adjective you can think of probably applies to the team’s start.
That was certainly the case Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena, when the Chicago Blackhawks jumped on the Red Wings so hard and so early that if fans were late getting to their seas from the concession stands, they already missed the game’s deciding moments. The Hawks scored three times in the opening 4:12, effectively sealing up the game before the Wings’ first shot on goal as they cruised to a 7-1 laugher.
Jeremy Morin began the assault at the 2:33 mark of the first, finding a puck that caromed off the end boards and beating Jimmy Howard from right in front of the Detroit net. Brandon Saad scored his first of two goals on a bad Red Wings change just 48 seconds later, and Jakub Kindl put a puck into his own net less than a minute after that to make it 3-0 Chicago on the game’s first four shots.
Incredibly, it got worse from there. Jonathan Toews scored his 17th goal of the season after Saad drove wide down the left side of the ice and threw it back in the middle of the ice for the Blackhawks captain 3:52 into the second period. That was the end of the game for Howard, but Jonas Gustavsson gave up his first goal only eight seconds after entering the game as Niklas Hjalmarsson found Saad streaking free right off the faceoff from Toews’ tally.
The Red Wings, playing without captain Henrik Zetterberg due to a groin injury, outshot the Blackhawks 27-13 over the final two periods, but way too much damage had already been done. Dave Bolland and Nick Leddy added third period goals for the visitors before Cory Emmerton put home his third goal of the year to spoil Corey Crawford‘s shutout bid with 33 seconds left in regulation.
Crawford still had a fine day in net, stopping 33 of 34 shots, and has now given up just three goals in three games against the Red Wings this season. Howard as 10-for-14 before getting pulled, and Gustavsson made nine saves on 12 shots in relief. Neither team’s special teams units got much work as only two minor penalties (both on Chicago) were called in the contest.
The Wings have dropped two straight after a promising three-game road winning streak and suddenly find themselves in danger of sinking back into the morass that is the bottom part of the Western Conference playoff race. They’ll get a quick chance to rebound against Colorado at home on Monday night, then it’s back to the road to visit Phoenix and Colorado later in the week.
The game was over when…
The Blackhawks showed up at the arena? Seriously, it’s hard to remember too many games that are over for all intents and purposes after four minutes of play. But since there was so much time left, it was probably the quick fourth and fifth goals that spelled absolute doom in this one.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
No one. Though this award generally goes out to someone even in losses, nobody deserves a shout out after a performance like that.