Well…I mean, it’s the last game of a Western Canada road trip. Honestly, what should we have expected?
A tired Detroit Red Wings team laid a massive Egg at the MTS Center in Winnipeg against the hometown Jets on Monday night, losing by a final score of 4 -2, and getting outshot 47-27.
Jordin Tootoo started the game off right with a fight against Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn – he knew his team was tired and that they could use some energy. Normally, a fight victory in the first second of the game would do just that – however, Detroit still looked out of gas to start. They were consistently outplayed and outskated by a Jets team missing Evander Kane – their best forward – AND rookie stud defenseman and former Michigan Wolverine Jacob Trouba. The first period was spent almost entirely in Detroit’s zone, but thanks to some incredible saves by Howard, the Jets didn’t make it on the board until the final minute of the period, courtesy of a breakaway five-hole goal by leading goal and point scorer Bryan Little.
The second period looked to be more of the same until about eight minutes in, when Henrik Zetterberg saw his pass intended for Todd Bertuzzi in the crease deflect off the Winnipeg defenseman’s skate and past Al Montoya into the net to tie the game at 1. However, the buzz was short-lived, as Detroit took two badly timed penalties in a row, giving Winnipeg a great chance to jump ahead…or so it would seem. In fact, Detroit ended up being the ones to jump ahead, as Danny Dekeyser scored his first NHL goal, shorthanded no less, off a clean faceoff win from much-maligned center Stephen Weiss. It was Weiss’s first assist of the season, and couldn’t have come at a better time; the one-goal cushion proved to be necessary once the Jets tied it up near the end of the period. Winnipeg ended up with a 2-on-2 rush coming into the slot, and rookie center Mark Scheifele fired a perfect feed through both pairs of Detroit legs to Michael Frolik, who rifled the puck into an essentially open net to tie the game back up.
Things looked better to start the third – Detroit finally managed to spend some extended time in a zone that wasn’t their’s! Unfortunately, as soon as the puck went the other way, a wide-open-in-the-slot Matt Halischuk received a pass from behind the net and roofed a shot past Howard to put his team ahead. Adam Almvquist should have had him – while Almqvist looked great moving the puck all game, that play showed that he still needs to work on his play away from the puck, especially in his own zone, before he becomes an NHL regular. The goal seemed to take some of the life out of the Wings, or at least made them panic a bit, because a bad neutral zone play a few minutes later (as well as, and I hate to say it because he’s the only reason the Wings were EVER in this game, an awful effort by Howard) led to a goal by Andrew Ladd to increase the deficit by one more. Despite pressing hard for the rest of the period and a 6-on-4 in their favor late, Detroit wasn’t able to equalize. Moral of the story? You can’t give up 50 shots in a game. EVER.
– Kyle Quincey gets a lot of flak…and I’m guilty of probably 50% of the total. But the fact of the matter is, he’s a smart, capable, mobile defensive defender with some offensive upside, and he frequently plays a safe, competent game. Much of his -7 has to do with being anchored next to Brendan Smith this season, and plus/minus is kinda BS anyway. The thing is, he makes mistakes at the WORST TIMES possible – it’s arguable that Kronwall makes more mistakes (or at least he did before he became a super-stud last year) than Quincey, he’s just not as snakebit regarding the timing.
– Howard was great. On a side note, him and Mrazek have the same number of shutouts this year. Lolz.
– Joakim Andersson continues to impress me game after game. He’s demonstrating great vision and playmaking ability, on top of being one of the best defensive forwards on the team…hey, wasn’t that Filppula’s profile for awhile? If Andersson turns into a bigger version of Val, I’ll be a Happy Homer.
– Why did Babcock EVER sit Tatar? And for that matter, why is 24-year old Gustav Nyquist rotting away in the minors in place of Daniel Cleary, or even Stephen Weiss? Back when Detroit was consistently the best team in the league, management could afford to let prospects simmer for years to improve their overall and defensive acumen, even if it meant risking their futures and killing their confidence. But Nyquist is a complete player. He’s ready to contribute at a high level, and Babcock and Holland are risking losing him permanently if they don’t start playing him.