The Red Wings came into tonight having won against the division bottom-feeding Buffalo Sabres in a close one-goal game. Not exactly the way you want to win against a team like that, but two points is two points.
Tonight was no different. The Red Wings were out-possessed, and out-chanced from top to bottom. Thankfully, the Devils are the lowest event team in the league. A lone goal from rookie sensation Dylan Larkin, and a perfect performance from young-gun goaltender Petr Mrazek lifted this third place team to second place-tied in the Atlantic Division.
Here we go:
It didn't take long to be reminded how bad the defensive duo of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson is:
As the game went along, it was normal Devils vs Red Wings low-event hockey until Brad Richards made a fantastic stretch-pass to send Dylan Larkin on a breakaway which enabled him to bury his 14th of the year on this beauty:
After Larkin's goal, New Jersey started to pounce on Detroit. The Devils outshot, and out-chanced the Red Wings, and Petr Mrazek was able to keep them scoreless. Again, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson are absolutely atrocious together. This is not a shutdown pairing. This is a pair that should be sheltered. They were both 33.3 CF% at even-strength after 20 minutes. Not good. Needs to be changed.
Another complaint: Fox Sports Detroit's intermission coverage is not good.
At the end of 20 minutes, Wings lead 1-0. Shots in favor of New Jersey (12-8), as well as even-strength shot attempts (21-10).
I didn't write during this period, mostly because I was focusing on observing the game, looking for something to write about. Detroit hasn't possessed the puck well at all in this game. Luke Glendening's line had a great standout period, where they generated a fantastic scoring chance:
If you missed the game, I can sum up a lot of things for you with one single stat: Jonathan Ericsson is the only player with a positive shot-attempt differential on the entire team through 40 minutes. Yes, the Jonathan Ericsson who I am not a very big fan of. Petr Mrazek deserves the starting job, because he's playing his ass off.
Detroit looked great on the PK after a nonsensical call on Tomas Tatar for goalie interference. He was shoved into Cory Schneider. Lame. Despite that, Detroit held New Jersey shot-less on the power-play.
Just 11 combined shots between both teams in the second period, Detroit coming out on top (6-5). Total shots are in favor of the Devils (17-15), as well as even-strength shot attempts (37-23).
Again, a limited-shot, limited-chance period by both teams. Big surprise, I know. Both teams are bottom in the league in that regard.
Both teams had a look on the man advantage, and both didn't look very good. The difference is that Detroit's PK unit looked fantastic, while New Jersey's PK unit didn't need to look like that, because Detroit's PP unit looked as if it had never played together before. Discombobulated, and uneventful. That part of the team still remains to be a question that needs answering.
Standout players for me were Darren Helm, Luke Glendening, and Riley Sheahan. Brendan Smith also had a couple of strong moments, but other than that, it was really a boring period. At the end of it all, you have to hand it to the guy who pulled off the shutout. Mrazek was sensational.
At the end of it all, Detroit was out-possessed across the chart aside from even-strength shots (21-21). Even-strength shot attempts came out all Devils (45-34), and raw shots on goal were also New Jersey's (22-21). Doesn't matter. We won because our goalie was better. *does some really lame dance, trips over dog, falls face first into floor*
- Jonathan Ericsson is bad. Niklas Kronwall is reaching the point of being just as bad. Having them paired together is... Bad.
- Petr Mrazek is good.
- Dylan Larkin makes things happen on any line you put him on. His line with Brad Richards and Riley Sheahan have been fantastic.
- The fourth line looks good. Luke Glendening had little ice-time, and putting him with a player like Tomas Nosek has made a noticeable difference.
- The penalty-kill performed extremely well in this game
- The power-play is still very, very bad.
- Player(s) of the Game: Most would say Petr Mrazek or Dylan Larkin, but I want to vote Brad Richards for the ridiculous stretch-pass he dished up to help Larkin score his 14th goal of the season.