The Red Wings lost to the Islanders. This is not a recording, although it could be at this point. I don't know what it is, but even when the Islanders were beyond pitiful, it was nearly a guarantee that they would come into Joe Louis Arena and leave with 2 points. Tonight was no different.
The period started with both teams not getting a lot of shots, but some quality chances were still being generated. A couple of weird bounces nearly led to goals, with the Islanders getting a great chance after Johnny Boychuk took advantage of the lively Joe Louis boards. However, the Wings struck first when they created a turnover at the Islanders' blue line. Darren Helm controlled the puck and fed it to Henrik Zetterberg, who scored his first non-empty net goal in his last 20 games. The Islanders slowly took control of the period after that, and only some big saves by Jimmy Howard and the post prevented New York from tying the game. Unfortunately, a seemingly harmless looking play proved good for the Islanders, when a point shot wasn't handled well by Howard, and Brock Nelson was able to poke the rebound under him despite being tackled by Jonathan Ericsson. By the end of the period, the shots were 9-6 New York, but 1-1 on the scoreboard.
The second period had an unexpected start, as Petr Mrazek took over for Jimmy Howard, who wasn't on the bench initially but came back (he eventually left with what was termed a "lower body injury"). Niklas Kronwall took a hooking penalty early, and the Islanders threw everything they had at Mrazek, who got warmed up pretty quickly. The Wings killed the penalty off, and started to get some offensive pressure themselves, but couldn't get anything past Jaroslav Halak. Midway through the period, a brutal giveaway by Riley Sheahan gave Nelson a mini-breakaway, who was stopped by Mrazek. Anders Lee was there to put the rebound home, although it took a video review to confirm the goal. The teams traded power plays in the second half of the period, but no one could score and the period ended with the Islanders leading 2-1.
The Wings started the third period on the power play, but nothing happened. The Wings came close a few minutes later, but review confirmed that Gustav Nyquist hit the post and the puck didn't cross the line. Henrik Zetterberg also hit the post, but not quite as emphatically. Mrazek gave us all a scare when he came way out of the crease to pounce on a loose puck, but the Isles couldn't convert. Despite spending most of the period in the Islanders' zone, the Wings couldn't score. Justin Abdelkader took a penalty late in the third, but Darren Helm was the one with the best chance when he had a breakaway that he sent wide. Mrazek was pulled late, but the Wings didn't get a single shot with the extra man and that's 4 losses in a row.
Points To Ponder:
- I don't know if this was something that was caused by the Wings or the Islanders, but there was a distinct difference in how both teams operated in the offensive zone. When the Wings had possession, there was a lot of skating around the perimeter and shots from behind the hash marks, but when the Islanders were in the Wings' zone they were able to get a lot of traffic directly in the home plate area and create chances that way. Given that I don't watch the Islanders, I'm not sure if this is normal for them, but the Wings' offensive performance was something we've seen a lot the last couple of weeks.
- The Islanders are a good team. This isn't the same as it was a few years ago when losing to them was a bad thing.
- During this 5 game losing streak, the Wings have scored 5 goals. The question is whether this is a slump or whether this is a sign that the Wings were not as good as their record indicated prior to this slide. Personally, I think it's mostly a slump that happens over the course of a season.
- A few positives from the game. Henrik Zetterberg not only got off the schneid, he also looked better than he has in weeks. Johan Franzen played a strong game, leading all Wing forwards in EV Corsi% and earning a spot on the second line in place of Abdelkader. Helm had another good game, setting up the Wings' goal and nearly tying the game late. It didn't end in a shootout.
- I do believe that this is Mike Babcock's time to show why he deserves all the money and hype and hoopla that surrounds him and his contract status. It's very obvious that the Wings aren't doing the right things that lead to offense, because they've scored 1 even strength goal in the last 5 games. Now it's up to him and his staff to get the right mix of personnel and system to mesh in a way that will allow the team to start generating consistent offense from multiple players.