Sometimes you have a night where things work against you. A bad bounce, a bad call, an unfortunate turn of events. It's a small difference between winning and losing.
Tonight was not one of those nights for the Wings.
The Wings were flat-out awful tonight, getting out-played in every facet of the game. After taking an early lead on Justin Abdelkader's goal, they were given a 5 minute power play after Chris Stewart boarded Niklas Kronwall in a hit that should get Brendan Shanahan's attention, and not just because it's a chance to stick it to the Blues once again. However, the Wings forgot about the "power" in power play, and that was the turning point of the game.
Tonight was a night where you tip your cap politely at the other team and then turn inward to examine why you played such a shit game. Truth be told, the Wings would have lost to any team in the league with their play tonight, and probably a bunch of AHL teams, too.
When one of the best things about a game is that it's over, you know it's been a bad night. Follow the jump for the bullets.
- At least they didn't give up 10 goals this time, amiright?
- You know, when Jonathan Ericsson was announced as being paired with Nicklas Lidstrom for the game, there were some who thought that he might be able to break out of the little funk (or as we like to call it, his career) that he's been in, but Murph was ready with the excuses like it was Dollar Hot Dog night; he was playing with a new partner; he was playing on the opposite side. A very tough first period with multiple giveaways and the penalty that led to the Blues' first goal couldn't make up for a decent night the rest of the way. Get well soon, Ian White.
- Hey, Chris Stewart: nice hit jackass. When a guy has his back to you and is about 3-4 feet away from the boards, most players have enough respect for his opponent not to push him in the back and drive him into the boards face first. However, you're a St Louis Blue, so I guess we know where you stand on respect for your fellow players. You do play for a team that employs David Backes, the poor-man's Shane Doan. Enjoy your suspension.
- To anyone complaining that the Wings lack an enforcer or someone should have "gone after" Stewart after the hit: shut up. The hit was not Stewart making a play because he knew no one would do anything; it was a stupid, gutless hit from behind that will earn him some supplementary discipline. Players did confront Stewart, but the refs wisely got involved early to break things up before it got ugly. I said it in the game thread, but the way to make a player pay for that type of hit is to have a power play that can score multiple goals. Instead, the Wings' power play looked it was being run by inbred 5 year olds, and they generated a grand total of 4 shots in 5 minutes of PP time. That penalty kill for the Blues was the turning point of the game, and the Wings never looked right after that.
- Speaking of the power play, what the fuck is going on? Seriously? At one point the Wings had 13 minutes of power play time and 6 shots, scoring 0 goals, while the Blues had 12 seconds of power play time, 1 shot and 1 goal. I don't know who exactly is in charge of the power play, but it unless you dream about puppies and unicorns you should be extremely concerned about the lack of production. It's not due to no talent; the Wings can throw 2 PP units out there that should be able to score almost at will. It's got to be the system. Hitchcock said that he needed one practice to fix the Blues power play; how long will it take Babcock? I've been watching the Wings for about 25 years, and I've never seen a Wing power play look as bad as it has this season.
- Coming back to the power play, how do you fix it? Put Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom back together? Give Brad Stuart a chance with his big shot? Put the third line since they'll actually, you know, go to the tough areas to try and score? Hell, Drew Miller has been one of the best Wings' forwards over the last 4-5 games; give him a shot on the power play. Detroit's power play is an embarrassing 14.3% on the season, so it's not like tonight was some sort of anomaly. The power play is broken, and if it were working, the Wings could have won the game with all the penalties the Blues were taking.
- There are a lot of numbers from tonight that are very telling: 26 blocked shots for the Blues over the course of the game; 0-6 on the power play with just 6 shots on net; 26 shots against the Wings after 2 periods (they averaged less than 26 SOG against a game); Henrik Zetterberg 22% faceoff percentage in the Blues' zone; 4 SOG for the Wings in the 3rd period despite having 3 power plays. Those are all the stats of a team that was outplayed. The Wings lost this game by not adjusting to what the Blues were doing, which is not a complicated style. That's a coaching issue, and it's something that needs to be watched going forward, because far too often the Wings are not adjusting mid-game to an opponent who is out-working them and playing a system that frustrates their puck possession game. The worst part about all this is that when the Wings do play like this, they look so off it's disturbing.
All the good feelings generated from the 4-game winning streak were dashed in less time it took for the Blues to kill Stewart's penalty. It's a shitty way to start a road trip, losing to a division rival, but there's no time to dwell on this because the Wings have to put their bibs on as they go fishing for shark meat on Thursday. The only good thing to come out of this game (besides the fact that Kronwall is ok) is that this should piss them off enough to take out their frustration on the Sharks. It's another week of late games and staying up late, but after December when the Wings move to the East, we'll remember these times with fondness while we're sleeping in our comfy beds after watcihng the Wings at a reasonable time.