The Red Wings return from the All-Star weekend looking to break a four game losing streak against basement roommates, the New Jersey Devils.
As these teams continue to take up storage, they’re both looking for a miraculous turnaround to salvage 2016-17. While you could argue they should both lay low for a high draft pick, neither team is endorsing that narrative (and predictably so).
The Devils pulled off only the second most shocking trade of the summer acquiring top line forward Taylor Hall from the Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson. Go figure, the Oilers are contending for their division while Hall’s been rattled with injuries and a lack of support around him as the Devils struggle to reach mediocrity. New Jersey made the Stanley Cup finals five seasons ago, but haven’t made the playoffs since in a wash of player, coaching and executive turnover. As desperate as this franchise is, it looks as though that’ll continue.
As the Devils attempt to avoid missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, the Red Wings are grasping to extend their playoff streak. The diggers wrote quasi-inspirational pieces yesterday and today, talking about the Wings renewed focus and determination to play the .600-plus hockey required down the stretch to make the postseason. If it helps any, Larkin returns from injury tonight, Helm is still getting acclimated after a long absence and both Smith and Howard are slated to return soon.
For the Red Wings to save this season, they’ll have to beat their current peers like the Devils, Sabres, Islanders and Hurricanes—you know, make your free throws. I could contend these poor teams are no longer free throws for them, but this team doesn’t sound short on bravado for their spot in the standings.
Anyone see Nico Hischier play in the CHL Prospects game last night?
Onto the game...
Right away the Devils get a 2 on 1 and former 30 goal scorer Kyle Palmieri rings one off the post short side. Wings coming out completely flat footed. Turnover in the neutral zone leads to a possession deep in the Wings zone for the Devils. They win the battle in the corner, Zacha with the shot, Noesen puts in the rebound to make 1-0 Devils. Another ugly start for the Wings.
1-0 Devils (Stefan Noesen at 1:28 from Pavel Zacha and Jacob Josefson)
That’s Noesen’s second goal in his second game with the Devils.
Abdelkader draws a penalty on Zacha. This historically bad power play will now have another exercise in futility. The question at this point on Red Wings power plays is over/under on shots. I’m going to set it at 2.5, take the under!
Shorthanded beauty by Palmieri taking advantage of a blind pass attempt back by Vanek. Kronwall was toasted on that play as Palmieri flipped the puck to himself in the middle, waited Coreau out wide and slipped it in at a bad angle. Really this is two early goals Coreau should’ve had, then again, bad turnover leading to a shorthanded breakaway. Oh and Palmieri, say it with me now, SKILL GUY ON THE PENALTY KILL!
2-0 Devils (Kyle Palmeiri (SH) at 6:21 unassisted)
That was Detroit’s fifth shorthanded goal allowed this season, putting them in a three way tie with Chicago and Calgary for sixth worst in the league, compounding their power play struggles.
Ten minutes into the 1st period, the Devils are outshooting the Wings 9-2. Other than a decent shot by Abdelkader right after Palmieri’s goal, Cory Schneider has yet to be tested.
First period concludes with little pressure by the Wings. The game just kind of went into ping pong mode with both teams volleying possession.
I’d yawn but I don’t want to do anything that could trigger my gag reflex.
NJD- Zacha (tripping at 5:09)
I’m finding myself yelling at Athanasiou to make smart line changes because I’m constantly worried he’s going to be benched for a period due to something like that. I’ve developing paternal neuroses for the Wings young players.
After penalties to Vern Fiddler and former Red Wing Kyle Quincey, the Red Wings now have a two-man advantage for the Wings for 1:16. Annnnnnnd with a full minute of 5 on 3 hockey, the Red Wings don’t get a shot and justly draw boos from the scatter of Joe Louis Arena fans. No sustained pressure, no lanes opening up. There’s a real movement problem with this power play aside from the entry issues. I don’t know where to begin. Even if I was an NHL caliber coach I think I’d be dumbfounded by this power play.
After the failed two-man advantage, the Wings begin to get some chances. Schneider has to make a couple strong stops. Still not too much sustained zone time for the Wings.
Devils turn it over on a failed clearing attempt for by Mantha, Nyquist throws it out front and Zetterberg gets the savvy redirect up over Schneider’s shoulder to get the Wings on the board.
Devils 2, Red Wings 1 (Zetterberg at 18:03 from Nyquist and Mantha)
New Jersey responds with a couple quick shots after the goal. Taylor Hall drives the puck through the neutral zone and Palmieri beats Coreau clean from the high slot. That’s deflating. Damn.
Devils 3, Red Wings 1 (Palmieri (2) at 19:26 from Hall and Ben Lovejoy)
NJD- Fiddler (holding at 8:17), Quincey (cross-checking at 9:01)
DET- Larkin (tripping at 5:27)
I’m watching the game on an MSG feed. They’re doing a feature on Devils assistant coach and former power forward, Ryane Clowe. Not too long ago, Clowe was Joe Thornton’s flanker, leading a high-powered offense with Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi (one of these things is not like the other). Clowe had to retire prematurely following four concussions in three years. It was a truly unfortunate circumstance for Clowe who had over 300 points in just under 500 games. The jarring thing for me was hearing his post-concussion symptoms—that he could never sleep or keep his eyes shut. We’ve previously heard stories of Johan Franzen’s inability to get out of bed. I really hope the NHL is also listening to stories from Clowe and Franzen and will continue to make progress on concussion protocol, treatment and care for players after they retire.
Ten minutes in and it’s nothing but a slog of brutality. A good metaphor within a play was Mantha getting a shooting lane to let one rip, instead he shovel passes to Jensen who was so surprised by his decision not to shoot he wasn’t ready and fumbled the pass. Just gross. Painful to watch hockey.
Oh, a power play for the Wings.
hahah I’ll wait for this to wrap up tidily.
Ouellet bobbles it at the blueline, Adam Henrique burns down the ice and beats Coreau for the Devils second unassisted shorthanded goal of the game.
But hey, we still have to consider buying at the deadline!
Devils 4, Red Wings 1 (Henrique (SH) at 10:30, unassisted)
The powerplay continues as the Wings actually get set up in the Devils zone (rare). Tatar gets a feed within the circle and uses an Abdelkader screen to ACTUALLY SCORE A POWER PLAY GOAL. WOW. I don’t know when the Red Wings scored their last power play goal. It might’ve even been against the Bruins—All-Star break erased my memory—but it feels like it was months ago. It’s just so so rare.
Devils 4, Red Wings 2 (Tatar (PP) at 11:49 from Kronwall and Helm)
Wings continue to build some pressure as the Devils appear back on their heels. Zetterberg and Mantha create traffic out front, the puck squirts up to Jensen who opts to carry it in deep, spots an opening, then redirects it in off the back of Schneider’s heel. Zetterberg may’ve pushed it over the line but on second glance, it appears to be Nick Jensen’s first career goal. And a beauty at that. I love aggressive defensemen. He read the mess out front and instead of chucking it at the net like most defensemen would, he knew he had time to set up a better chance. Jensen has quietly had a very good rookie season for the Wings. He’s part of a core that gives me hope for the future.
And here come the damn Red Wings sharking for that singular point.
Devils 4, Red Wings 3 (Jensen at 15:18 from Zetterberg and Ouellet)
The Wings draw another power play late and will now have an opportunity for a 6 on 4. With 10 seconds left, Vanek crashes the net with a golden chance at the top of the crease but Schneider kicks it out, New Jersey eats the puck in the corner. Ball Game.
Red Wings 3
NJD- Noesen (hooking at 10:18), Palmieri (interference at 17:44)
Mike Babcock used to always use the phrase, “start on time”. I’d hear him say in almost every pre-game interview. Sure, it’s a cliche that every coach would love to see their players make good on, but Babcock was seemingly obsessed with it. There were plenty of bad starts and embarrassing games in the Babcock-era, but in Blashill’s short time, it seems like there’s been several. Too many goals within the first two minutes of the game. Too many deep holes to climb out of. Today was another example.
The Red Wings again came out ill prepared and got punched in the mouth. I could prattle on about two shorthanded goals off turnovers and the general putridness of the power play—they’re all fine and good points with plenty opportunity to be made again in the future. My concern is the starts. Continuously the Red Wings stumble out of the gate. If a team is constantly ill prepared, who does that fall on? We don’t need a coach’s challenge to answer that question.