I'm not going to lie to any of you: I barely watched any of this game.
Due to personal stuff going on (all good, for those that might worry), I was taken away from the game and could only pay attention sporadically. However, what I did see was a Red Wings team that looked sluggish from being off, made more defensive mistakes that resulted in goals against, and failed to generate any consistent offense at 5 on 5. That all added up to yet another loss to the Florida Panthers, who inexplicably give the Wings fits.
This one had all the makings of a trap game. The Wings had been off since Sunday's whooping of the Penguins, and they were facing a big match up against the Lightning tomorrow night. From the beginning of the game, it looked as if the Wings overlooked a Panthers team that still has designs on making the playoffs.
So, since the Wings aren't going to put much of an effort, neither will I. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't points to take away from tonight's game.
For all the consternation of moving Joakim Andersson up to center Gustav Nyquist and Teemu Pulkkinen, that line looked the most dangerous offensively and generated a lot of scoring chances. Andersson didn't totally look out of place, but the lack of finish doomed them.
That could be applied to the entire team. The Wings had 26 shots on net, which didn't include 4 posts. However, Roberto Luongo made some strong saves for the Panthers and the Wings were unable to get any second or third chances. It was another case of the offense not being enough to overcome the defensive mistakes that led to the Panthers goals.
I'm not sure what to make of the goaltending tonight. Petr Mrazek made 29 saves, many of which early in the game when the Wings were trying to get their game legs. However, I find that he can tend to be very aggressive in the crease, and wonder if that contributed to the second goal. At the same time, there's no way to say that he cost them the game, and goaltending wasn't led to this loss. Now imagine if everything I just said were true of Jimmy Howard, and allow your mind to go crazy with the comments that would come.
I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's game without Pavel Datsyuk against a rested team, so expect the Wings to win by 6.
On a personal note, I never had the pleasure to meet or work directly with Matthew Wuest, but there's no question that he did so much for hockey fans, particularly with the creation of Capgeek. He created a resource that hasn't even been close to replicated and maybe never will. We all owe a debt of gratitude to him. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.