The atmosphere leaving Joe Louis Arena leaving Tuesday night’s game was as miserable as the weather following a 2-0 shutout loss to the bottom-feeding Nashville Predators
From the first puck drop the game took on an energetic feel; Detroit is clearly still bitter about their 2011 first round playoff exit at the hands of the visiting Predators, as both teams showcased a hard fought battle through the opening frame. The Preds seemed to have a slight edge, likely still high from their thorough drumming of the Blackhawks over the weekend.
The shot differential ended 10-7 in favor of Nashville by the end of the period. Offense wasn’t necessarily the problem – both the Tatar line and the Pav-Z-Bert line drove possession exceptionally. Defensive play on our part was a bit shaky, which was only exacerbated as Dan Dekeyser was injured early from a hard hit by Predator Patric Hornqvist from which he did not return. Thankfully seven defensemen were dressed for the game, so they were able to keep a regular rotation – not to trivialize the loss of Dekeyser, who is arguaboy the best defensive presence on the team to date.
The start of the second period was rampant with sloppy defensive play and miscommunications, but this was thankfully rectified once the team settled down and adjusted to missing a 12th forward and their number two defenseman. Early (and plentiful) penalty’s tested Detroit’s PK units thoroughly, and they stood strong until Shea Weber was able to blast a point shot through traffic that made it past Howard to put his team up by one…with just three seconds remaining in the period.
Nashville took a slight edge in possession to start the third period, but the Wings kept up solid play in their own end and limited their opponent’s chances to low-percentage areas. Their play defending the rush left much to be desired, however, showcased perfectly by a 3-on-1 that caused by a mishandle by Kronwall that ended up with a perfect cross-ice one-timer that Gabriel Borque was able to lift past Howard, which put Nashville up 2-0.
If Detroit could start every game with the anger and desperation they show when down late in the game, we’d be higher in the standings for sure. The few minutes after Nashville’s second goal were -all- Red Wings; they were finally able to achieve consistent pressure in the offensive zone, which gave them a couple of quality scoring chances that almost resulted in a goal. This offensive onslaught was destroyed by a high-sticking call that immediately followed and resulted in a double-minor against Detroit. They killed it off with little problem (#teamrehabPK), and the ensuing retaliation from the home team was exciting to witness. Their ability to keep the puck in Nashville’s zone and execute quick, patient plays was on display – this finally started to look the Wings from October that we all know and love. This intense display ended with an “altercation” between Mikael Samuelsson and Viktor Stalberg that resulted in coincidental roughing minors for both teams. In the ensuing 4-on-4 and empty net play near the end, Detroit was not able to capitalize, let alone equalize, and remain winless for the past eight games.
- What is happening? Seriously? The chemistry in the forward lines seems off, and it seems like a shuffle could be in order…as long as it doesn’t end up breaking up the Pav-Z-Bert line.
- Danny Dekeyser’s absence better be short, because there’s not really a strong enough defensive presence aside from him to carry the blue line. There’s no real shortage of puck-moving D, on the roster and through the pipeline, but we could use a legitimate shutdown defenseman who has a little more snarl than Jonathan Ericsson.
- Speaking of chemistry, I’ve been juggling some line combinations in my head for when everyone is healthy again. I’ve come up with the following:
Zetterberg – Datsyuk - Bertuzzi (Amazing top line)
Nyquist – Franzen – Alfredsson (Youth + experience, complimentary styles)
Andersson – Weiss – Tatar (The chemistry of Andy and Tatar could jumpstart Weiss)
Miller – Helm – Abdelkader (Great chem, grit, speed, and solid secondary scoring)
Keep in mind that I’m not entirely sure of the cap implications, but maybe with waiving Cleary and Samuelsson we could find enough cap room. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!
As always, thanks for reading! @rollin_on_D