Everybody remember the game against Columbus on Friday? Good, that makes this recap a lot easier to write. Just go read that and everywhere you see "Columbus", replace it with "Nashville". The Predators took advantage of an early power play and never looked back, as a combination of unlucky bounces, lack of finish, and a focused goaltender watching the other end came together to doom the Wings to their second straight 3-0 blanking. A couple early credits to Nashville here. While I don't like their fans, it was promising to hear that they set a record for attendance in this game. The Bridgestone Arena was loud all night, even if they were sometimes cheering for things that didn't make sense. Of course, they at least got the goaltender's name right when they started razzing MacDonald, unlike the Blues fans at a game I attended last year.
I digress, let's get to the goals. The first one came just over three minutes into the first period, as Justin Abdelkader got sent to the box for incidental contact on a man bigger than he is. Shea Weber found the time and space to release his slap shot from the faceoff dot and blew it past both Lidstrom and MacDonald for what turned out to be the game-winner. Keeping to form of giving up one per period, the Wings allowed another in the 2nd, as Sergei Kostitsyn broke in shorthanded and ramped a backhand up off MacDonald's stick and in. Kostitsyn would strike again late in the third with an insurance goal as meaningless as buying a fire policy on an igloo.
If you can find the energy, come through the jump for the bullet points.The road ahead doesn't get any more restful for now, as the Wings will see Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers at home on Monday before welcoming the same Predators to the Joe on Wednesday.
- This is a slump, folks. These happen every year. They're no fun to go through when they do, but it's nothing to jump off any bridges about. The Wings haven't deserved to win the last two games, but they haven't deserved to lose by this much either. When the offense gets as frustrated as they have, it's easy to overlook the good things they are doing. This game was two posts away from being much, much closer.
- Speaking of which, this isn't an effort problem. It's always pretty easy to say that if the Wings would have just tried a little harder, things would have gone differently, but it's a bit of a tricky situation with hockey. Sometimes, trying harder is the worst thing you can do. Don't confuse that with needing to give less effort, though. A guy concentrating his ass off to hit the triple-20 on a dartboard is giving as much effort as the guy who expends a lot of energy trying to whip a dart into that tiny spot, it's just that the more focused effort is going to be more successful. It's like that.
- Yes, that's a shot at the coaching and on-ice leadership. I've given the team a lot of breaks for lack of focus with the excuse that it's a long, grinding season. That fact hasn't changed, but I think the team senses as well as anybody else that it's time to pull out of that mid-season grind-related funk and put the screws to some teams. They needed to do that this weekend against back-to-back division rivals and didn't.
- Man, was the officiating brutal in this game. It benefitted the Wings more, as they were on the receiving end of more undeserving power plays, but that's hardly consolation. The Linesmen breaking up a potential fight between Abdelkader and Colin Wilson in the third was probably the worst of a handful of bad decisions.
Jan Mursak played 3:01 worth of ice time before leaving the game for good with the dreaded "lower body" injury. That was a bad blow, as he had a lot of jump in his limited ice time and was really making the defense back off well.
Joey MacDonald had a very good game and had a sub-.900 save percentage. Regardless of that, he looks like he's capable of carrying a workload in Osgood's absence. I'm getting less convinced that the Wings would need to make a move for a different backup to spell Howard.
Speaking of Joey Mac, he's your Red Wings player of the game. No need to put this up to a vote.