- We enter tonight’s match vs. the Bruins with the Red Wings winning back to back impressive games against the Penguins and Canadiens. Yeah, I don’t get it either. But the Wings are playing a Bruins team that looks good yet susceptible to break downs all season. Boston lost their last game to the Islanders 4-0—Islanders coach, Jack Capuano was fired the next day.
It’s plausible the Wings could take this one tonight, in a crucial two points, as the Wings are looking to somehow jump four teams to slide into a wildcard for their 26th consecutive playoff appearance. Personally, I don’t even like this talk. There’s still over a month to go until the deadline but whether the Wings should be buyers or sellers is in plain and bold writing to me. In order for the Red Wings to rebuild, they have to tear it down and use the young core of Athanasiou, Mantha, Larkin, Jensen as a base then insert another prospect defense and goaltender there—maybe Hicketts or Saarijavi and Mrazek. Either way, the future has to start at some point. This is glaring so bright I have a migraine, yet Holland wants to continuously delay the inevitable. If he didn’t have tenure, his job would be in jeopardy. It should be regardless.
On to the game....
Less than a minute in we have a goal! Damn, that’s the Red Wings we know.
Bruins get an entry from Marchand, get the puck to the net with traffic in front, it trickles down Coreau and in. Frank Vatrano gets his fourth....Wait, the goal’s being reviewed for offsides. Taking a look it’s incredibly close. I think Marchand has just enough of the puck for it to be onside. Yep, the goal stands but I don’t blame Blashill for the challenge, it was close.
Bruins 1-0 (Frank Vatrano (4) at :44 from McQuaid and Bergeron)
It’s now 2-0! Will we see Mrazek? Mike Green with a bad turnover on the boards as he gets stripped by Bergeron who sets up Marchand to give a perfect feed at the top of the slot to Carlo. Embarrassing shorthanded goal. Hey, I guess when you dare use skill players on your penalty kill you can create scoring chances despite being down a man. I don’t know, haven’t seen it much since Babcock left. Guess I forget that’s even an option.
(Author’s note: I know Glendening, Miller, Cleary, Draper and Maltby were all notable penalty killers under Babcock but there was a time when Datsyuk and Zetterberg killed penalties regularly too and were damn good at it.)
Bruins 2-0 (Brandon Carlo (4, shorthanded) at 2:27 from Marchand and Bergeron)
Dekeyser takes a tripping penalty. Bruins powerplay is coming in hot. This will be a big challenge to prevent a pivotal three goal lead. The Bruins are all over the Wings. The puck was pinned into the zone nearly the entire time. Spooner just misses a loose puck and wide open net on the doorstep. Krug spins away from Sheahan to start the play, briefly loses it to Abdelkader but Backes knocks it back into the zone.
Marchand to Backes with a nice lil touch pass to Vatrano who snaps it past Coreau for his second in the first period.
Coreau mercifully gets pulled.
Bruins 3-0 (Vatrano (5, powerplay) at 8:50 from Backes and Spooner)
Wings get the puck deep into the Bruins zone. Tatar uses his speed to get to the puck, pulls up delivering a perfect pass to Larkin who fires it home. So good to see, not just for the sake of this game but for two players who’ve received a lot of undeserved scorn from Red Wings fans this season. Tatar and Larkin’s numbers might be a bit down but for Larkin you have to look at how he’s been used this season and Tatar has suffered some bad luck.
Bruins 3, Red Wings 1 (Larkin (12) at 15:32 from Tatar and Sheahan)
Bruins go back to the powerplay off an Oullet penalty. Bergeron wins the draw clean back to Krug who’s able to get a tip from Bergeron in front past Mrazek. Yeah, didn’t think the goaltending change would help.
Bruins 4, Red Wings 1 (Bergeron (10) at 19:01 from Krug and Marchand)
I can comfortably say that was the worst period the Red Wings have played since mid-November in Montreal. This is arguably worse. Turnovers. Panicking in both over pursuit and dumping out of the play. Horrid special teams. Clustered positioning. The Wings also gave up 19 shots, the most they’ve given up in a period this season and one more than they gave up the entirety of Monday’s game vs. the Habs.
This is why I wish the print and TV media were more critical of this team. This is why I wish this franchise wasn’t so busy bilking tax dollars for their new arena they’d get away from their laurels on-ice and in the front office. If the Red Wings tout their playoff streak and their traditionally high standard of success there should be little patience shown for this season, mainly because tonight’s performance is far from an anomaly. The 2016-17 Red Wings are closer to being the team we’re seeing this period than the team we saw Monday.
Two more periods left. Pull me back from the cliff.
BOS- Moore (2:00, crosschecking)
DET- DeKeyser (7:13, tripping), Ouellet (18:24, interference)
The Wings are able to create a great forecheck along the boards led by Tatar and Larkin. The puck pops loose from the boards, Ouellet scoops up a failed clearing attempt and knuckle pucks it past Rask! XO gets his second of the season set up by hard work from Tatar, who not only starting that sequence but got to the front of the net to set the screen on Rask. The goal will go down as unassisted by Tatar has the assist in my heart.
Bruins 4, Red Wings 2 (Ouellet (2) at 4:21 unassisted)
Green does a great job to keep the puck in the zone and reset to Athanasiou who gets the puck in deep to Vanek. Thomas Vanek a.k.a Duke Silver surrounds you in all of his jazz with a silky wrap around pass to the problematic Andreas Athanasiou who tucks it in short side. Instead of talking about another AA goal, lets talk about that minus he took on Vatrano’s second goal. I bet Blashill had the shock collar revving on that one. Yep, Athanasiou is the problem. That was his tenth on the season.
Bruins 4, Red Wings 3 (Athanasiou (10) at 9:54 from Vanek and Green)
We suddenly got ourselves a game.
Going to insert this thought here: Jurco on a line with Tatar and Larkin instead of Sheahan. Last time I’ll mention Jurco on this fine blog.
HEY TATAR! THE GOOD HOCKEY BOY! Takes advantage of a puck that trickles out of the zone, getting a breakaway and goes forehand-backhand-fivehole past Rask for his second of the game. Again, say it with me; Tomas Tatar Is Good.
Love the big celly too. He’s a gem.
Bruins 4, Red Wings 4 (Tatar (10) at 14:36 unassisted)
Oh, crap. Boston takes the lead right back. Wings display some impatience with another over-pursue along the boards. Krejci recognizes the tilted ice, gets it over to a wide open McQuaid who ricochets it off Ericsson’s stick, dipping beneath Mrazek and in. How deflating.
Bruins 5, Red Wings 4 (Adam McQuaid (1) at 14:57 from Krejci)
The period concludes with the Red Wings still down one but in significantly better shape. They doubled the Bruins in shots, didn’t take a penalty and scored three goals. Biggest difference I spotted in the period was the Wings away from the puck. They were more focused and disciplined in their forecheck and at times more dogged. Boston had a lot more pressure on them while Detroit was more composed. It was a near perfect response from the Red Wings.
It came to my attention the ice time for the Wings is a little peculiar. Mainly Ericsson leading the team in ice time despite having a puck redirect in off him in addition to a couple bad turnovers in the first, while Athanasiou played the least with only six minutes of ice despite having a goal. I guess you can’t receive your lashes if you’re on the ice. But hey, Ericsson can make all the mistakes he wants because he’s a veteran. It’s academic, really. To be completely fair, Riggy was a +2 in 5v5 shots (thanks to Prashanth Iyer for the shot stats he distills from hockeystats.ca).
Rask makes a strong short side save on Mantha who powered off the wing and got a great shot at a seemingly impossible angle. First rumbles from Mantha tonight.
Penalty coming to local kid Austin Czarnik for interference on Ouellet. Can the powerplay actually do something here? Can’t exactly see who it was on my TV but a Red Wing just attempted a 1 on 3 zone entry, so I’m guessing no, the Wings will not get something done on this powerplay.
After a long lull the Red Wings sustain pressure down low with Tatar once again doing all the work along the boards. He throws a hot pass to Larkin who can’t initially handle it but he gathers it and throws it out front to Shea—wait, no, Nyquist! What a great adjustment! Nyquist stays hot and the Wings make an improbable comeback after a horrid first period.
Bruins 5, Red Wings 5 (Nyquist (7) at 16:56 from Larkin and Tatar)
Wings get a late powerplay after Pastrnak takes a dumb penalty in a scrum after the whistle. Oh the irony if the powerplay gets this team six points against three playoff teams.
Well, hold that sixth point for now. We move to overtime.
BOS- Czarnik (8:08 interference), Pastrnak (17:20 roughing)
We open with a puck trickling up the boards to Marchand. He comes in alone but wait, he’s caught and stripped cleanly by Mantha who if we recall, struggles to play a 200ft. game. Cynicism and snark aside, incredible play by Manthony.
Tatar just misses on redirection on a beautiful set up from Larkin.
Great glove save low by Mrazek on Pastrnak.
I can criticize Holland for a lot but never for 3 on 3. I love this. How could you not love this?!
Mantha is able to draw a penalty shortly after a gold almost vintage scoring chance by Zetterberg. Of course, Wings can’t make anything happen on the short powerplay. We go to overtime.
By the way, 11 seconds left in overtime. Find someone capable of scoring more than one damn goal to take the draw. Glendening should not be out there for an offensive zone faceoff on a powerplay, especially in overtime. Goodness.
BOS- Vatrano (4:48 holding)
AA gets jammed up by Rask despite using his classic cork screw move.
Spooner comes in on wide angle, tries to beat him with speed to the blocker side but Mrazek stops him.
Duke Vanek comes in and gives you more of that smooth jazz to bathe in, going top corner nonchalantly.
Marchand comes in low, catches Mrazek sleeping. Ties it 1-1.
Shootout specialist and all-star Frans Nielsen is able to make a quick move and slide it past Rask.
Now Vatrano can keep it alive for the Bruins. He goes way wide, squares up and misses the shot. Mrzaek pumps his fist in victory.
The Wings win three in a row against three damn good teams. Drinks on Helene St. James!
Red Wings-6 (SO)
It’s at this point in the season where you begin to develop conflicted feelings. Logically, the Red Wings have to sell at the deadline, miss the playoffs, hit on a top 10 draft pick and start anew. Emotionally, you can’t help but grin at a win like tonight’s or the hockey played these past three games. You want to scorch the earth after that unsightly first period, but how can you not love the fortitude displayed the final two periods, overtime and shootout. I’m sticking with my head, as much as my heart wants to interfere. I feel a little guilty for smiling about tonight’s win knowing efforts like this will ultimately bring about more stagnancy. What a terrible place to be in as a fan. Ah well, the hell it matters what any of us think. It’s up to Holland and this three game winning streak is more kibble to scoop for the Wings’ sycophants and lemmings come March 1 and beyond.