The Red Wings seemed to use all their offensive power against the Devils Friday night at the Joe, when their injury-hammered offensive lines dished out seven goals for a season high. Before today’s game, they seemed to be on a roll since the Olympic break, going 3-1-1, scoring 21 goals and creeping back into a playoff spot. Their only regulation loss in that time was a one goal game, and overall the Wings played incredible hockey without Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Then, the team rolled into Madison Square Garden, and experienced a game that I hope we can forget very quickly.
In short, the Red Wings got squashed- big time. There’s no way around it. The Rangers skated fast, defended tightly, pushed hard, had a gritty forecheck, yada yada yada… oh, and they scored, too. But this was less about New York playing good, and more like Detroit playing horrendously. The shots for the game were counted at 31-30 in favor of the Rangers, but those numbers don’t tell the story of the game. The Wings, for the majority of the game, didn’t take good shots; several garbage flops to the net and weak, desperate scoring chances inflated their numbers. And when they did take good shots, Henrik Lundquist, once again, was unbeatable in the Garden. This game had more than it’s fair share of bad calls, and as a biased Red Wings fan I would say there were more against us, but bad calls don’t excuse a shutout smacking.
Brian Boyle scored just over 5 minutes into the game off a wrist shot slipping past Howard. The puck slid to him after John Moore lost possession when stopped by Daniel Alfredsson. The Rangers continued to dominate most of the first period, and had a few more scoring chances before the ending horn sounded.
The second period was scoreless, and things started to brighten for the red team; the defense improved miraculously, shutting down every Ranger line and frustrating the likes of St. Louis and Nash. The Wings looked like they were still in the game, until the last two minutes, in which they broke down. In an effort to kill the clock after a long Ranger forecheck, the Wings toyed with the puck in their own zone. David Legwand lost the puck, leading to an offensive push by New York that seemed to flatten Detroit’s spirits. Somehow, New York didn’t score after countless chances, and the period ended.
In the third period, just 14 seconds in, Chris Kreider deflected a Derek Stepan slap shot into the net, and broke the camel’s back. After this goal, the Wings became totally flat-footed, generating very few legitimate chances, playing porous defense, and basically giving up. Kreider scored again near the end on a wide-open net when Stepan delivered a sneaky pass on a two-on-one, catching Howard off guard.
Mike Babcock called the loss “unacceptable”, and said it was the team’s worst performance since January 1st (per Ansar Khan and Helene St. James).
Lundquist earned his 49th career regulation shutout, and 300th career win. And the Wings earned nothing.
All in all, if the Wings want to make the playoffs, they can’t lose games like this. They need to play desperate, fast, and smart hockey, which they were doing up until today. Their next game, against the Columbus Blue Jackets, is an absolute must-win. The two teams are fighting against each other for the 2nd wild card spot in the east, and hopefully Babcock has some choice words for the Wings to remind them that they’re about to miss the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years.
Tags: Detroit Red Wings