Game two was a rough one all around the the Wings, who lost in regulation to the Blue Jackets by a final score of 5-3. Martin Frk received a high stick to the eye (uncalled) as well as later being cross checked face first into the boards, while Tyler Bertuzzi missed some time in the third period after taking a puck to the throat. It was scary seeing him get hit, drop to the ice for a few seconds, then try to get off the ice as quickly as possible while gasping for breathe and clearly in a lot of pain. The team played better tan they did against the Blues, but as is sometimes the case in hockey, the end result didn't reflect the improved performance. Just like in the game against St. Louis, the Wings let a 2 goal lead slip through their fingers, outshot their opponent (34-18 against the Blue Jackets and 34-25 against the Blues), and their special teams were terrible.
Where Do They Stand?
With an overtime win and a regulation loss behind them, and only two games left ahead of them, the Wing are almost certainly out of contention to win the tournament. A regulation win is worth 3 points, an overtime win worth 2, an overtime loss gets you 1 point, and a regulation loss is a goose egg. The Wing sit in last place in their division (full standings here) and would have to win both their remaining games in regulation while also having Columbus lose in regulation on Monday just to make it into the 3rd place game on Tuesday. That's the drawback of such a short tournament, one loss can make the difference between being in the championship game, or finishing last in your division. While it's disappointing to have such a uphill battle, the Wing certainly weren't the favorite to win coming into the tournament. If you look at each team's roster, you'll see that the Wings took a different approach to putting their team together. While most teams try to stack their roster as much as possible (See: Rasmus Ristolainen with 34 NHL games and Nikita Zadorov with 7 NHL games for Buffalo and the Stars having 6 players who won the Clader Cup in the AHL last year), but the Wings chose to use this tournament as a developmental tournament instead of stacking the team with skill and experience. Sure, winning the tournament would be great, but the Wings know using this as a springboard for the young guys develop[ment and experience, while also taking a good look at the 8 free agent tryouts on the roster (more than any other team).
|Martin Frk||Tomas Nosek||Anthony Mantha|
|Tyler Bertuzzi||Andreas Athanasiou||Colin Campbell|
|Marek Tvrdon||Zach Nastasiuk||Jerome Verrier|
|Hayden Hodgson||Dominic Turgeon||Darby Llewellyn|
|Mattias Backman||Ryan Sproul|
|Richard Nedomlel||Joe Hicketts|
|Marc McNulty||Ty Stanton|
How It Went Down
Things started off on the right foot when only 35 seconds into the game, Richard Nedomlel took a shot from the left point and, while the goal is officially credited to Colin Campbell, I'm pretty sure it was Big RIchard's goal. Just over a minute later, Joe Hicketts was hit into the Blue Jackets bench, and while he came out unscathed and laughed about it later, Nedomlel took this opportunity to remind everyone that he's not just a pretty face and he and Mike DiPaolo dropped the gloved and exchanged phone numbers. The sounds didn't come through on the video, but the first three or four punches made audible "crack"noises at the players punched each other's helmets before they came off. About 7 minutes later the Wings took a 2-0 lead on an Anthony Mantha power play goal. From the right point Ryan Sproul wired the puck to Martin Frk took the shot from the bottom of the circle to the goalie's right, the rebound came out and Mantha put it into the net. I said above that the Wings special teams have not been good, but with about 5 minutes to go in the period, Frk went off on a holding penalty, and on that Jackets power play, the Wing PK'ers only allowed them to have a total of 32 seconds in the Wings zone and maybe 1 shot on goal (at the 2:15 mark of the video the entire PK is included).
The second period was again the Wings weakest and included two Columbus goals and two Wings penalties. The first BJ's goal came at 8:25 from Josh Anderson and a minute and a half later Markus Soberg tied the game on a power play goal with Ryan Sproul in the box for interference. Tie game.
The Wings got things headed back in the right direction when 5 minutes into the period when Tomas Nosek scored a beautiful goal as he was on his stomach on the ice. The Wings had a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes to go in regulation, unfortunately that was the end of the Wings scoring. Even more unfortunate was the fact that the Blue Jackets were not. A power play goal from Peter Quenneville at 5:01 tied the game at 3 apiece, and it looked like we were going to have a second overtime with four minutes to go. Devastatingly, an even strength goal from Josh Anderson at 16:47, and an unassisted goal by Marko Dano at 17:07 sealed the Wings fate. The Wings tried desperately to score late in the 3rd, pulling Paterson for the extra attacker, and then leaving him on the bench when the BJ's took a lpenalty with a minute and a half left, and going with 6 skaters to 4, but couldn't get a goal for their effort.
Post Game Player Thoughts
The top line continues to be fantastic, and every single one of Frk, Mantha, and Nosek are playing great. Frk is faster, lighter on his feet (he lost weight this summer and focused on conditioning), and he looks like a different player than he was last year. Sometimes he looks like a power forward, and he's not relying on his teammates to get him the puck or set him up, he's chasing it down, taking it, carrying it into the zone and setting his teammates up (now he just needs to use his wicked shot more). Nosek looks right at home, which is impressive given how ucnertain and tentative he was in development camp, and he'll start in Grand Rapids, but he'll be dominating in the AHL in no time. Manth continues to get better, and he's been great in both games so far. We've heard a lot about his "compete level" needing some work, and making sure he stays engaged the entire game. in these two games, I've been very impressed with how much better he's gotten and how much more active and engaged he is when he's on the ice. Much less waiting to get the puck and much more getting the puck and powering into the offensive zone. I've also got to see him shoot the puck a lot more than I have in the past and I like it a lot.
What the team needed in this game was depth scoring, and they didn't get. Their penalty killing through two games is a tournament low 54.55% and their power play sits at an abysmal 11.11%, ahead of only the Rangers (8.33%) and the Sabres (0%). The power play often looks really dangerous, but has only been able to actually score once out of 9 opportunities with the man advantage.
Sometime late in the second period I think, Blashill started to shorten his bench. McNulty and Stanton barely saw any ice time in the third, while it seemed like Sproul and Backman hardly left the ice. I don't remember seeing Hodgson or Llewellyn at all in the third, which meant that Turgeon, Nastasiuk, and a few others were being double shifted.
Nastasiuk impressed me again in this game, because he can do everything. He may not do any one thing better than anyone else, but whatever the team needs done, he can do it and he'll do it well, and give it everything he has. He plays on the power play, penalty kill, 4 on 4 overtime, offensive zone draws, defensive zone draws, whatever the coach and team need him to do. Blashill gave him an "A" for the tournament, and said he's a natural born leader, and that's pretty obvious if you watch him very long. Third line center may not sound like it's worth of all that praise, but Nasty is the kind of 3rd line center I like to call a difference making 3rd line center.
Athanasiou continues to play great hockey, every time he's on the ice he's an offensive threat, he's still looking for the right balance between using his teammates and doing things himself, and last night I wish he would have done a little more himself, he's exciting to watch every shift.
Jake Paterson did not have a good game. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating to watch him because he can make an amazing save one minute, then let in a wtf goal the next. He has all the tools to be a really good goalie, but he hasn't yet figured out how to make them all work together consistently. He's turning pro this year and will start in Toledo with Jared Coreau. Jake is going to have to really buckle down and earn his playing time in Toledo, because Coreau has been very good so far and I think the two of them pushing each other will be a good thing.