Before today, everything was bad.
It was getting colder in Detroit, and it wasn't because of the weather. It was because of Red Wings hockey. Back-to-back losses at the hands of Tampa and Florida left Red Wings faithful with a big pit in their stomach. It was a bad couple of days. Everything was grim.
Then yesterday came. Yesterday came and the Wings called up speedster Andreas Athanasiou, which was a sign that there were to be lineup changes. Joakim Andersson sat, and Athanasiou got to center a line with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. The Eurotwins were reunited, and Dylan Larkin was on Brad Richards' wing.
The offense was alive and well at 19 Steve Yzerman Drive today, folks. The Red Wings surged past the New York Islanders with a 5-1 win. Let's get into the fun stuff, and have fun for once:
INSTANT REACTION: Andreas Athanasiou is pretty good, so we should like just put Joakim Andersson back in Grand Rapids. The Red Wing were doing a good job at sustaining puck possession, but their passing was off. Lots of blind passes into groups of other players that weren't wearing red. Detroit took the first penalty of the game - Tomas Tatar went off for cross-checking Travis Hamonic. I don't want to alarm anyone, but, the Red Wings successfully killed the penalty off without Joakim Andersson or Drew Miller.
Despite the lack of shots on goal, Tomas Jurco was able to put the Red Wings up by one on a great shift by Gustav Nyquist:
Really like how Nyquist looked this game. Good two-way play, and then this great setup. Great shot by Jurco for his third of the season. See what happens when you put skill players with each other? Weird!
Bout four minutes later, the Red Wings were able to get on the board again. Kyle Quincey (!!!) scored on a great rush by Dylan Larkin. Quincey joined the rush, and Larkin set him up with this ridiculous backhand pass. Travis Hamonic looks practically useless here:
At the end of the first, Detroit leads 2-0, while New York controls just about everything else in terms of puck possession. Shots on goal are 9-4, 5v5 shot attempts are 16-7.
Wings came out with some penalty left to kill, and they did it successfully without getting scored on. This is a weird concept: the PK can be good without Drew Miller. I will die on this hill. Try and stop me.
Detroit was doing a good job on the forecheck, and passing much better than they were in the first period. Because of that, they ended up finally drawing a penalty on Calvin de Haan for holding Tomas Jurco at 6:36 of the period. Shortly after, the Wings managed to draw another penalty when Johnny Boychuk tripped Pavel Datsyuk at 7:13. That made fun things happen! Mike Green score on the power-play (yes, we are actually allowed to do that) and that put the Red Wings up by three (yes, we are allowed to do that, too.):
The fun didn't stop there. Andreas Athanasiou continues to impress everyone when he setup Tomas Tatar for Detroit's fourth goal. This marks the fourth time this season the Wings have held a four-goal lead, and the first time since December 3rd. Congrats to Athanasiou on his first career NHL assist:
Isn't it funny what a few adjustments will do to a lineup? The team looks 100 times more confident in the offensive zone. I mean, I guess you could blame it on the Islanders being not very good, but whatever. This team needed a first 40 minutes like this. The lines kept buzzing, and the Tatar - Athanasiou - Nyquist duo continued to look damn good.
At the end of the second period, Detroit leads 4-0. NYI still leads in shots (16-12), and 5v5 shot attempts (33-23.)
Well, it took us a while, but the third period eventually started. If you missed the game, they had some serious ice issues at the Joe. It looked like absolute hell, but was "fixed" after an additional half-hour of tender love and care.
The ice looked like crap. The players didn't seem as fast, and they also seemed a bit uncertain if they were going to hit a rut, and tear their knee into multiple pieces. That didn't stop Dylan Larkin from scoring his 18th goal of the season to make it 5-0:
It didn't take the Islanders very long to bounce back and net their first goal of the game on the power-play. Brendan Smith took a penalty just before. He had a Brendan Smith moment. Not sure if Petr Mrazek really saw it, but John Tavares officially has the same amount of goals as Dylan Larkin. Big day for him. Going back to Petr Mrazek, he was fantastic all game long. He made a load of impressive saves, and stayed sharp despite the 50-some-odd minute intermission after the second period.
It was pretty obvious that the Islanders had checked out. The Red Wing cruised the rest of the way and locked it down without having to provide much offense. This one's done, folks.
Wings win 5-1 over Isles despite being outshot 29-20, and beat at 5v5 shot attempts (45-31).
Well, the offense woke up. That's a good thing. Petr Mrazek is still really great. That's a good thing. Yeah, we were outshot, but after two straight games of being an offensive enigma, I'll take this one.
The Red Wings are now off until Monday when they go head-to-head with the Florida Panthers again. Let's get some revenge. No more allowing six goals, please and thanks.