The Red Wings turn in yet another uninspiring, stale effort in Carolina

The Detroit Red Wings came out flat-footed once again in a must-win game which led to another uninspiring 4-0 loss.

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With their postseason hopes slipping through the cracks, the Detroit Red Wings needed to somehow come up with two points in Carolina. Moments before the start of the game, we found out that star forward Patrick Kane and Austin Czarnik wouldn't be available as they battle an illness that has been finding its way through the Red Wings' room.

Daniel Sprong, who had been a healthy scratch over the past four, drew back into the lineup, and stranger Justin Holl, who's played sparingly, got a rare opportunity (third game in 23) as the Red Wings would go 11/7. So, in an absolute must-win situation, head coach Derek Lalonde would be Kane-less and turn to James Reimer in goal. Breaking news, it didn't go well.

You'd think the Red Wings would come out with a sense of urgency and understanding of what is at stake, but Detroit came out flat-footed and sloppy like that have so often this season, especially of late. The Red Wings finally recorded their first shot well after the halfway mark of the first period and finished the frame being outshot 15-4. Woof. Some continue to say this team is cooked, and although just two points out of the eighth playoff spot entering the night, I don't want to believe it.

The Detroit Red Wings turn in another poor performance in Carolina.

That said, these constant slow starts and pure lack of effort suggest this group is missing something. Is it an overall talent thing? Is it a coaching issue? Maybe Detroit overachieved in January and February, but they seem better than they've played in December and March.

I've mentioned numerous times that although Steve Yzerman continues to improve the roster slowly, the Red Wings are undoubtedly missing a second-line center who can drive the unit down the middle like Dylan Larkin does on the top line. J.T. Compher is a nice player who can elevate his game when needed to fill a need as a second-line center but is best served as a third-line center on a playoff team. Like Compher, but a year prior, Yzerman brought in Andrew Copp to be Detroit's second center, but he's proved time and time again that he's best utilized as a third-line player. His ability to play center or the wing gives Detroit some versatility. Copp, Compher, and Michael Rasmussen, or Christian Fischer would make up a nice checking third unit; I'm just saying.

Despite surviving a scoreless first period, which saw the Red Wings heavily outshot, Detroit wouldn't remain so lucky in the second frame, allowing four unanswered goals. Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis each enjoyed three-point periods, both recording a goal and two assists. Jake Guentzel notched a pair of helpers in the second period as well. It was more of the same for Detroit. They continue to struggle with their defensive zone assignments whether it's Jeff Petry, Michael Rasmussen, Shayne Gostisbehere, Olli Maatta, and the list goes on. For a veteran-led unit, Detroit's backend continues to make rookie mistakes; it must drive not only Lalone nuts but also Bob Boughner. Well, with how poorly Detroit's backend has performed, Boughner's time on the Red Wings' bench might be in jeopardy. Something has to give.

Reimer allowed two goals that he'd like to have back, especially the fourth one. As the puck ricocheted off the end boards, Brady Skjei fired a weak shot toward the goal, and it trickled through Reimer. The other goal that James would like back came on the power play; Jarvis snapped a clear shot from the right wing under the Detroit netminder's right armpit. The shots would end up 33-24 in favor of the Hurricanes. Freddy Anderson posted a shutout, and the Hurricanes clinched a playoff spot.

Prior to the start of this tough five-game road trip, I mentioned that the Red Wings needed to find a way to earn five points to stay in the wild-card race. Well, after three games, Detroit has earned one point. That single point came in Washington, whom Detroit is chasing for the final wild-card spot. Next up for the Red Wings are the Florida Panthers on Saturday, followed by Tampa Bay on Monday night.

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