The Detroit Red Wings returned to the ice following a much-needed three-day holiday break, in dire need of a victory over the Wild in Minnesota. Detroit turned to veteran netminder James Reimer in goal with Ville Husso and Alex Lyon on the shelf. Reimer is anything but a brick wall but got the nod over journeyman Michael Hutchinson despite his admirable performance this past Friday at home in a 3-2 loss to the Devils. After two solid periods of play by Reimer, he transformed into his old self for the third frame. You won't win many games when you allow six goals. It's not all on Reimer, but he isn't exactly giving his team a chance to figure things out. The amount of 'weak' goals scored on the Red Wings nightly is stunning. In turn, the defensive lapses this team suffers night in and night out are astonishing.
The Red Wings allowed a goal on the first shot just 38 seconds into the contest, thanks to Matt Boldy. The second Wild shot on goal was a breakaway chance from Marco Rossi, and things could have quickly gotten out of hand, but Reimer made the huge save. Reimer later would make another breakaway save midway through the second frame to keep the Red Wings within reach as the score was 2-1 Wild at the time. And again, with just seven seconds left in the first period with Rossi in all alone after a poor effort from defenseman Jake Walman. I know Walman is an excellent shot blocker and is a fan favorite because he does the gritty sometimes when he scores. Still, he's had a lack of awareness and effort on far too many occasions throughout the year, so much so that head coach Derek Lalonde made him a healthy scratch before the holiday freeze but reinserted him into the lineup after Olli Maatta was injured.
The Detroit Red Wings failed to show up yet again.
If there was anything good to take from Detroit's 6-3 loss on Wednesday, it's that Patrick Kane continued his scorching hot streak by scoring his sixth goal of the season. Kane, 35, is on a point-per-game pace, and when you think about it, this is really just the beginning of his 'regular season.' Kane, returning from hip resurfacing surgery, was just thrown into the fire. Although a plethora of training took place, it's a lot different than in-game action. If Kane is producing at this clip now, I wouldn't expect much of a drop-off as the year wears on if he can remain healthy.
Alex DeBrincat scored his 16th of the season on the power play thanks to a gorgeous pass from Shayne Gostisbehere to set it up. That tied things at two from literally a moment before the floodgates opened. Suddenly, Reimer couldn't stop a beach ball, and team defense became non-existent. Daniel Sprong added another maker for Detroit late, but the Wild quickly countered it to retake a three-goal lead. If you didn't know, you would have thought the Red Wings were playing their third game in four days, and it was the second of a back-to-back, but of course, they were coming off a three-day holiday break.
Everything is an issue right now in Detroit. Coaching, goaltending, defensive coverage, structure and scheme. Also, the lack of offensive pressure, zone time and scoring opportunities aside from the top line of Kane, Dylan Larkin, and Alex DeBrincat. The Detroit Red Wings were outworked early, and often; their chip-and-chase offense from their bottom three lines is not working. On Wednesday, they lost every single puck battle or 50/50 opportunity. The Wild manhandled them on the wall, and their forecheck is nowhere near tenacious or heavy enough to create turnovers and turn them into scoring opportunities. Detroit is pinching far too often in tight games, allowing far too many odd-man rushes when they know their goaltending isn't good enough to bail them out regularly. December has exposed the Detroit Red Wings, and it will be interesting to see what general manager Steve Yzerman does, if anything, to counter this spiraling downturn.