The Red Wings went down to Dallas hoping to spoil another home opener, and instead found themselves on the business end of an old-fashioned whipping at the hands of the Stars. The Wings gave up a power play goal less than a minute into the game, but they survived the rest of the first period, escaping only down 1-0. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Wings that the second period is just as important as the first, as they were outscored 3-0 in the period and went into the third down 4 goals against a stingy defense. In the final period, the Wings got a late PP goal to ruin the shutout, but really, that was the only bright spot on an otherwise unforgettable night.
Join me after the jump for the bullet points.
I think for this recap, I'm going to do the "compliment sandwich", where I start with a positive thing, then look at areas of improvement or opportunities, then finish with another compliment. Unfortunately, this sandwich is going to be a double-decker club on two pieces of Wonder Bread.
- First off, huge stick tap to the Stars fans for the ovation they gave Mike Modano midway through the first period. I thought it was a great way to show support to a guy who did not want to leave, but didn't fit in the team's plans. I know that we on the game thread were really impressed with that display, and I did not hear one boo directed at him during the entire game. Well done.
- On to the improvements. Brad Stuart had a game he'd like to forget. It was his penalty that led to the first Stars goal, the third goal bounced him off his leg, and the fourth goal was a result of him being outworked by James Neal. For me, he was easily the goat of the night.
- Besides Stuart, no one on the defense really had a good game. Nicklas Lidstrom had a few uncharacteristic turnovers and never seemed right. Niklas Kronwall was all over the place. And Doug Janik plays as if the ECHL would be too fast for him. Jakub Kindl and Ruslan Salei were easily the best defensemen out there, and that should scare every Wing fan. Get well soon, Brian Rafalski!
- Up front, there wasn't much to speak of. None of the top 3 lines really generated any decent scoring chances, and the fourth line was nowhere to be found. The forwards often looked confused in trying to break through the Stars backchecking and defense, and there was no urgency in their attack. I will say this about the fourth line: back in the day, after a goal, the Wings could throw out Draper, Maltby and McCarty to get the energy back on the team. Tonight, the Wings could have shocked their players with cattle prods and it wouldn't have worked. The Wings need the fourth line to be the spark, and tonight they were duds. But then again, so was the rest of the team.
- I pointed out during the game that the Wings looked "off", and they never looked good at all during the game. Passes were off the mark; shots went wide; skating was slow; and positioning was brutal. The worst part is that the Dallas announcers (those of us watching on the NHL Network had to deal with the Stars feed) noted that they did not feel the Stars were playing that well. If the Stars were able to beat us 4-1 when they didn't play well, I shudder to think how bad it would have been had they been better.
- The main thing in the game that really pissed me off was that they were outworked and outhustled all game by the Stars. I don't care if the other team is simply better on a particular night; I can't stand seeing another team appear to want it more than the Wings. I never want to see the Wings get beat by a team due to work ethic, but that's exactly what happened tonight. The third goal was off a turnover by Henrik Zetterberg in the neutral zone, and I've already touched on the fourth goal and Brad Stuart. I'd be surprised if there was any paint on the walls after what I assume would be a massive tirade by Mike Babcock.
- Chris Osgood. Sigh. What to say. Look, I'm not about to pin this loss on him as entirely his fault, because the whole team in front of him was awful. But a .714 SV% in any game is brutal, especially when the other team has less than 20 shots. More importantly,. he should have had the first goal. I understand he was screened, but the puck went under his arm between his chest, and he should have that closed off. Ozzie has got to get back to being the guy who makes the big save at the right time, not giving up goals like that. The loss tonight wasn't solely his fault, but he was goat #2 behind Stuart in my book.
- Johan Franzen. Good gravy, can we just bench him until November 1st? I'll chip in and pay his salary if that's what it would take. He was struck in the head (I say "struck" because I haven't seen a good replay yet), and everything I've read so far indicates that while it was a head shot, it was a "clean" hit in the sense that it was from Fistric's shoulder. Personally, what happens to Fistric (suspension, fine, etc) takes a back seat to Franzen's health. He was one of the few brighter spots early in the game, and when he left, the team went flat. Hopefully he just got his bell rung and they kept him out for precautionary reasons.
- We'll end this on a positive note. I thought Pavel Datsyuk showed some signs of life out there, and he appeared to be the only Wing that kept skating even when it was a big deficit late in the third. He had yet another Datsyukian steal that he couldn't convert on, but every time he was on the ice, he was trying to make something happen, and he was the only one on the team who looked like he was skating hard out there. Oh, and we can't blame the refs for this loss, which is always nice.
So that's that. It was a piss poor effort from everyone, and the Wings need to put this behind them and get ready for the Coyotes on Saturday night. The Yotes are going to want some measure of revenge for last year's playoff loss, and if the Wings don't bring their "A" game, we could be in for another long night.