When the calendar turned to 2015, it was pretty clear that the Red Wings were going to be in for a rough time as they slogged through several tough games on their schedule.
The Wings, winners of 9 of their past 10 games, came into Pittsburgh looking to continue their hot streak against one of the better teams in the East. What happened was nothing short of an ass-kicking, as the Pens roared out to a very comfortable and easy 4 goal lead and sat on it while the Wings attempted to mount a comeback that ultimately never came close to fruition.
There's something about when the Wings suck, because they don't half-ass it in any way. When the Wings decide that they aren't going to show up, they might as well not even take sticks on the ice, because it looks as if they simply don't want to touch the puck at all for fear of cooties.
So tonight was terrible and instead of recapping what happened, let's just get to the observations and then bitch about what this team is missing, because it's clearly something.
- I am normally loathe to say things like this, because I believe that there are far more things that go into being successful than just effort, but throughout the first period, all I could think was "the Penguins look like they want it more". After being off for 3 days, perhaps an optional skate wasn't the best idea this morning.
- All year we've been saying that the Wings have played down to their competition, but this marks the 2nd time in a little under 2 weeks that the Wings have played an East contender and shit the bed early. With a very large road trip looming after playing Winnipeg and Montreal at home, this doesn't bode well for getting out of February in decent shape.
- I'm not going to lie: despite the score, I'm glad that Marc-Andre Fleury's shutout streak is over, because I hate seeing mediocrity celebrated for a lucky hot streak.
- Something is wrong with Pavel Datsyuk. He looks old and slow. I'm waiting for the inevitable announcement that he's injured.
- An effort like tonight against a team that forechecks aggressively and with a lot of speed is exactly why I believe the Wings are still at least one piece away from being a true contender. The Wings' defense was unable to deal with the Pens' forecheck on several occasions, and this led directly to the Pens' second goal as Luke Glendening didn't take his time with the puck and gave it right to Pittsburgh. Whether that was because LGD felt pressured to make a play or he just forgot how to handle a puck, it was awful to watch. If these are measuring-stick games, then this game and the Lightning game show that the Wings are still a step behind the true heavyweights in the East.
- Maybe it's just me, but Gustav Nyquist has been a little quiet lately. Despite having points in all but 5 games in 2015, I sometimes feel as if he disappears a little bit in big games like tonight. I'm probably being overly critical of Gus, but with the Wings down by 2 early it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Nyquist to ring up a goal and get the team back in it. I'm happy with 20 goals, but only 8 at even strength is something that needs to be improved. This entire blurb could be me just lashing out because I'm mad they lost.
- Brendan Smith has had better games. We're nearly at the point where Alexey Marchenko is carrying him, not the other way around.
- The number of bad habits that have crept into the Wings' game lately reared their ugly head again, and against a good team it was yet another example of how bad the Wings can be if they don't play their game. Too often they allowed easy entry into the zone, failed to cover the high slot, and played passively on the boards. Couple that with unforced errors and a lack of cohesion when they actually possessed the puck, and it was a very deserved loss.