This game sucked.
Honestly. If you missed it, I'm envious of you. Not that the Red Wings played bad (they didn't play good either), it's just that the Wild outplayed them in areas of the game that prevented Detroit from gaining any sort of momentum. Detroit spent a lot of time with perimeter play, and very little time in front of the net, or in the dangerous areas. The team overpassed, undershot, and underperformed.
Head coach Jeff Blashill gave some stern words about the game tonight. Seems as if he is very frustrated with the amount of turnovers the team had, along with the inability to gain the zone like they have been able to in past games:
#RedWings Jeff Blashill upset with team's performance. Said he'll evaluate for possible lineup change, so maybe Tangradi plays in Winnipeg.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) December 29, 2015
Interesting take, but I think Khan is speculating here. Eric Tangradi is the only available player to sub into the lineup, and I don't think there is any player you can take out who is an upgrade. The knee-jerk reaction is Joakin Andersson, but the fourth line wasn't the issue tonight. Believe it or not, they performed well given what we are used to seeing.
This was by far one of the most frustrating games I've watched in a while, just because the Wild took care of business, and the Red Wings did the exact opposite. Here's the period-by-period breakdown:
The Wild came out skating faster than Detroit, went ahead in shots 4-0, but the Wings were able to gain some momentum and keep it in their zone. Unfortunately, their choice of passing was less than ideal. Danny DeKeyser had a clear lane to shoot, but elected to do a no-look pass behind him and screwed it all up.
The Wild were the first on the board on a goal from Charlie Coyle. He danced around Brendan Smith (made him look like a pylon), and sniped it past Mrazek. Would like to see Petr stop that, but oh well. Shortly after, Minnesota scored another goal, but it was called back as it was played with a high-stick by Matthew Dumba.
Looking at special teams, the Red Wings had to kill off one penalty (without Luke Glendening or Drew Miller! OMG!), and it actually looked really good. Detroit was gifted a call later on, and couldn't make anything of it. FSD pointed out that the Red Wings have the second-best road power-play in the league. Could have fooled me.
At the end of 20 minutes, Minnesota leads 1-0. Shots in favor of Detroit (11-9), even-strength shot attempts also in favor of the good guys (14-11).
I watched this 20 minutes of hockey, then at the end of it, I realized that I hadn't written down any thoughts on it. That's how "meh" it was. If I had to choose the most exciting player for the Wings in that period, I would have to say it was Petr Mrazek. From the 10 minute mark and on, he was locked in, and made some big saves, including a two-on-one.
I swear I dozed off at one point. I swear.
Detroit needs to focus on getting shots THROUGH to the goaltender. Too many blocked shots. Puck possession is great, but it means nothing if you can't get pucks on net. That's all I'll say.
At the end of 40 minutes, Minnesota leads 1-0. Shots in favor of Minnesota (19-18), even-strength shot attempts also lean towards Detroit (32-26).
The third period started off much like the second period - Boring. The more I think of it, this was a boring game, but that's because the Wild made it that way. They controlled the Wings. They dismantled them, and trapped the game after they scored the opening goal. Minnesota is 10-0 when they hold their opponent to two goals or less at home. What didn't help Detroit were the amount of turnovers. Too much meaningless passing that didn't create the room that was needed. When you have the opportunity to shoot, you have to shoot the damn puck.
All-in-all, the Wings played OK. The problem is that OK isn't good enough. Minnesota put this one away with Mikko Koivu scored on the power-play to make it 2-0. Despite a late goal from Pavel Datsyuk, an untimely penalty by Mike Green cost the team valuable time with Mrazek pulled. Koivu scored the empty-net goal, and that's the game. Frustrating loss.
- Tomas Nosek plays a quiet game, but it's pretty good. Not quite 100% sold on him, but he did setup Tomas Jurco for a great scoring chance early in the game.
- Brendan Smith got absolutely smoked when Charlie Coyle danced around him. After such a great game against Nashville, you'd like to see some consistency. That's Brendan Smith for you.
- Petr Mrazek had a strong game, even though the score does not show any indication of that. He was the only player who showed up.
- I know no one wants to hear this, but Pavel Datsyuk is light years from what he used to be. The hands are still there, but the legs are gone. It sucks, man. I hate it.
- Corsis and Fenwicks told a completely different story tonight. Minnesota blocked over 20 shots. That's a problem. The team isn't creating space to get shots on net.