It's weird to watch the Red Wings play at a normal time again. After spending the last 2 weeks on the west coast, the Wings returned to Joe Louis Arena to resume play against the Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia Flyers made their first trip to the Joe for a game that turned into a real goaltender's duel.
The Wings looked sluggish to start the first period, not unusual for a team's first game back after a long road trip. Detroit had an opportunity to take a lead when Ryan White launched himself at the head of Tomas Jurco, resulting in a 5 minute major and game misconduct, not to mention an automatic review by the DopS as it was a match penalty. Unfortunately, the Wings' struggles on the power play continued, and they were unable to take advantage.
Tomas Jurco would return, although some question how he could do so after a head hit like that. The majority of the period was fairly choppy, with neither team able to generate any consistent offense. The Wings took their first penalty of the game when Danny DeKeyser interfered with Jakub Voracek. Petr Mrazek made a few strong saves, but the Wings held on without penalty killing superstar Drew Miller. The period ended scoreless, but the Wings looked decent for their first home game in over 2 weeks.
Shots: 11-10 Flyers
Strong period: Pavel Datsyuk
Tough period: Mike Green
Despite playing the night before, the Flyers were the team that looked fresh and sharp at the beginning of the second period. Mrazek made several great saves to keep the game scoreless. Radko Gudas roughed up Pavel Datsyuk and took a penalty, but the Wings were unable to convert despite looking very sharp. Immediately after the penalty expired, Justin Abdelkader and Evgeni Medvedev took matching roughing minors, and we had some 4-on-4 action. Mrazek and Michael Neuvirth put on quite the display, making strong save after strong save. Mrazek robbed Mark Streit on an odd-man rush, and then Neuvirth did the same on Riley Sheahan right after. After a lot of sustained pressure, the Wings struck first. Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff and fed back to Jonathan Ericsson, who made a smart play to Niklas Kronwall. Kronwall's shot went off Gudas and over Neuvirth, and after a challenge by Dave Hakstol, the goal stood and the Wings took a 1-0 lead.
Score: 1-0 Red Wings
Shots: 23-16 Red Wings
Strong period: Riley Sheahan
Tough period: No one because we're feeling generous
The Flyers, sensing that their legs were about to give from the weight of their neanderthal heads, came out strong in the third. They got on the board when Voracek drove the net and fed Claude Giroux, who put the puck just inside the post on a great shot, tying the game. The Wings went to the power play immediately after when Henrik Zetterberg was hooked on a partial breakaway, but the Wings' power play once again let them down. Kyle Quincey took a penalty after that, but the Wings killed it, but sensing that they didn't need Drew Miller any more, the Wings took 2 more in quick succession, first a delay of game penalty on Mike Green and then a tripping penalty on Kronwall. Like every girl I knew in high school, Mrazek prevented any scoring from happening, and the Wings got back to even strength. It looked like we were headed to OT but Brendan Smith took a very bad penalty by tripping Sean Couturier, and then it looked like the Flyers scored but Wayne Simmonds was called for goaltender interference and the after review, the goal didn't count, and it was off to OT.
Shots: 30-27 Flyers
Strong period: Petr Mrazek
Tough period: Brendan Smith
The Red Wings had the briefest of power plays, but as a result of the penalties, most of the overtime was 4-on-4. The Wings had several chances to win, but couldn't do it. So we went to a shootout. Regular shootout stuff happened, including the Wings being unable to score more than 1 goal and the goalie unable to stop more than 1 shot, and the Wings dropped another one at home.
Points of Observation
I guess I shouldn't care that much, because it's the Flyers and no one cares about the Flyers, but Ryan White should be suspended for his hit on Jurco. It was a blindside hit where the head was targeted. And he's a Flyer, so that's worth a game by itself.
Keith Jones called tonight's game "challenging" from an officiating standpoint. It's believed he was speaking about the White hit, the Wings' goal, and the Flyers' called-off goal. Surely someone as objective as Jones has no personal standing in the matter, but it's obvious that the officials were right to make the decisions they did in all three instances, and we should never question their judgment.
Another game, another blown third period lead. The Wings were clearly the better team through two periods, but penalty trouble in the third caused them to be on their heels for the middle of the period. However, at even strength in the third period the Wings out-attempted the Flyers 9-7, finishing with a score-adjusted CF% of 61.6%. The Wings played a game tonight that should lead to better results.
However, all the shots in the world aren't going to make a difference if they continue to have problems scoring. Detroit was once again unable to score more than 3 goals in a game, and were held to less than 3 for the 8th time in the last 10 games. I'm not sure what the fix is, but one has to wonder if it's time to give the forward lines a shake, because they are getting nothing done. Pavel Datsyuk and Dylan Larkin were magical together for a brief time in the third period, and one can only wonder what a whole game of those two together would look like. I'm thinking it would like the most attractive person you know cooking the tastiest food you can think of.
Special teams have been an issue all season, and tonight was no different. The power play was given a glorious opportunity early when White took his penalty, but couldn't score in 5 minutes. They looked more dangerous overall, but no goals. On the positive side, the penalty kill was perfect, including a 96 second 5-on-3 midway through the third. Drew Miller wasn't physically on the ice, but he was there in spirit in helping the Wings navigate a difficult time.
The Wings' 4th line finished as positive possession players. Feels good to read those words, doesn't it?
The penalty that Brendan Smith took late in the third period is exhibit A on why Red Wing fans will never fully get behind him and recognize him as a decent defenseman. We can trot out all the statistics in the world that show he has a positive impact on possession and his linemates, but he continues to make that one bad play that is remembered. I've said that I think Smith has been better this year, and he's getting better as a player, but those mistakes are holding him back from avoiding the scorn of Wing fans, some of which is deserved.
Petr Mrazek deserved better and will be your player of the game. And yet we're talking about a game that went to a shootout where the Wings didn't score and the goalie didn't stop more than 1 shot. Sunrise, sunset.