Man, has it been a long week. Two Wings games during the week is nowhere near enough for me. Tonight, the Red Wings hoped to break out of the basement of the Atlantic Division. As it stood before puck drop, they were ranked 7th out of the 8 teams in the division, ahead of only the lowly Sabres. Washington, fresh off a 7-1 shelling of the Pittsburgh Penguins, looked to pull within 2 points of the New York Rangers for 1st place in the Metropolitan Division.
How’d this one go down?
The Caps nearly went ahead off the opening faceoff, Andre Burakovsky rung one off the iron less than a minute into the game. Ovechkin had a great rush up the wing to back off the Wings defense and then slid the puck to Burakovsky in the slot, who nearly converted. Other than that, this wasn’t a very exciting game to start. Both teams were just trying to feel each other out in the season’s first meeting.
Sheahan and Oshie collided in the neutral zone, and although Oshie seemed to initiate the contact he got the worst of the hit and went back to the dressing room. In total, the Caps would lose three forwards to injury at various points in this period, not including Tom Wilson who was a little shaken up from a dangerous hit by Danny DeKeyser. DeKeyser was given a 5 minute major for this hit.
DeKeyser gets 5 minutes for this. Bad look by him. pic.twitter.com/7DKsRrMUmo— Kyle M. (@KyleWIIM) November 19, 2016
That’s an awful penalty to take. If you hit/shove a guy from behind, especially, near the boards, you’re going to get called. The Caps went to work on a 5 minute powerplay and Ovechkin almost put Washington ahead less than a minute into the man advantage.
After that close call from Ovechkin, the Caps seemed to lose any momentum they had on the powerplay. The Wings did an excellent job keeping them to the outside and not allowing any easy opportunities. Even though the Caps had 5 minutes of time to play with, they only managed to get 3 shots on goal. The effort culminated when the Capitals took a holding penalty with 30 seconds left in their powerplay.
Unfortunately for the Wings, their 90 seconds of powerplay time haven’t looked much better than the Caps. At the end of the powerplay, Larkin fed to Tatar in the crease but Holtby held his ground and the game remained tied.
Shortly afterwards, Tatar was fed in front of the net and he was unable to finish off Holtby. He took one too many dekes and just couldn’t elevate the puck in close. This was a great play by Bertuzzi to flip the puck up to Zetterberg from the neutral zone for a 2-on-1 and then Zetterberg to dish Tatar in front. Tatar remains as snakebit as ever.
Anthony Mantha set up Riley Sheahan for a great opportunity in front of the net but he sent the puck just a little too high, it appeared that it glanced off the crossbar. The Tatar, Mantha and Sheahan unit has looked dangerous so far.
Tatar and Williams (who is playing after all) got mixed up together with just a few minutes left. Williams thought Tatar was trying to slew foot him, Tatar appeared to just lose his balance trying to lay a check. Sort of a weird play, but the Wings ended up being awarded a powerplay with about 30 seconds left in the period. They didn’t get much going on that short opportunity, though and that’s how the period ended.
It wasn’t very exciting, but the Wings did exactly what they had to do. They limited quality chances against and had a few good opportunities at the other end of the ice too. A 5 minute powerplay wasn’t enough for the Caps to convert, and we head to the dressing room tied 0-0. Oshie (would not return), Eller (would not return) and Burakovsky (did not return) were not present on the bench. Wilson did return to the game.
Shots (on goal):
DET: 12 (5)
WSH: 24 (10)
Wings came out looking to take advantage of a Caps team playing their 3rd game in 4 nights that also happens to be down 3 forwards. The Wings couldn’t get anything else going on the powerplay A lot of back and forth play here but none of it seems particularly driven or dangerous by either team.
25 minutes into the game and the Wings have only mustered 6 shots on goal. Not giving up a whole lot to the Caps, who have only 13 on goal, but they’re not generating much either. That’s a bit disappointing given the Caps are extremely depleted.
More interesting than the game: The Capitals Canine Calendar goes on sale the 23rd of November. The question on everyone’s mind: Does Jay Beagle have a beagle? Nope, he’s got himself a German Shepherd. Ken Daniels’ comments on the matter? “That makes no sense.” I concur.
Anyway, back to the game. Zetterberg had a nice opportunity that was set up by Nyquist but Holtby saw the puck the whole way from the slot and kept the Wings off the board with a nice save.
With 9:40 left in the period, Connolly tripped Sheahan up and the Wings will head back to work on the powerplay. Given how lifeless both teams appear, if the Wings can get ahead on the powerplay, it’d greatly help their chances of winning this game (who knew, scoring a goal increases the probability that you win a game - I wonder if anyone’s thought of that before).
Unfortunately for the Wings, other than bring the shots on goal a little bit closer, they didn’t get any good opportunities here.
With 2:07 to go in the period, Steve Ott drew a high-sticking penalty. He appeared to be alright and the Wings had an opportunity to go ahead with the shots on goal now even at 17. But again, stop me if you’ve heard this before, the Wings didn’t get much on net and apart from a few good passes from Sproul, I can’t think of anything good they really did on the powerplay. Oh well.
End of the period: still 0-0.
Shots (on goal):
DET: 35 (17)
WSH: 41 (18)
To start the 3rd period Nyquist had a good takeaway in the slot but sent the puck wide. Back the other way, Green gave the puck away a few minutes later and Kuznetsov also missed on the ensuing shot.
The Wings did not come out very sharp to start the period, even with the manpower advantage. Sure, they’ve frustrated the Capitals for the most part but, again, if you’re playing the game to not lose, especially up 3 forwards, you’re doing it wrong.
Eventually someone broke through, and it turned out to be Jay Beagle on a rebound in front of the net. With 5 minutes left, the Caps took a 1-0 lead. Yes, a team that is playing with 9 forwards and 6 defensemen lead in a game against us.
Unfortunately, that’s how this game would end. The Wings definitely did not deserve to win after the pillow-soft game they played. Given the chance to play 2 full periods against a Capitals team with a much-shortened bench, the Wings promptly laid an egg. There was no sense of urgency until the last 90 seconds, no sustained pressure and far too many missed passes. Zetterberg even took a tripping penalty with 50 seconds left.
If you lose to a team that’s down 3 forwards (playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, no less), I’d think that’s like losing an election to someone who’s dead. Not a good look. This was a sloppy effort and the Wings need some serious help. Thankfully, Thomas Vanek is back in the lineup on Sunday.
Shots (on goal):
DET: 48 (25)
WSH: 56 (28)
Final score: 1-0 Capitals. What’s the opposite of a killer-instinct? Asking for a friend.