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Game Recap: Ducks Shutout Red Wings 2-0

I hope you were sleeping.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game against the Ducks begins a west coast run for our Red Wings coming off an exciting third period comeback vs. the Maple Leafs in the Centennial Classic.

This upcoming road trip may very well decide the Red Wings fate and they’re going in with...Steve Ott on the power play. We all know the controversey and alarm of our hero, OtterN9NE getting looks as the net-front guy. Sadly, that’s not the most surprising lineup move coming into tonight’s game.

Andreas Athanasiou has had a rough stretch of games where he’s been out of position away from the puck leading to some costly turnovers and goals. Instead of letting the kid play through it, he’s returned to his 2015-16 post in the team stocks, where Blashill and Holland pelt him with tomatoes.

Riley Sheahan’s still in the lineup. He’s got zero goals and six points in 36 games. AA has five goals in 23 games.

I feel like giving up. I’m not expecting the Red Wings to appear they’ve given up.

The Ducks have regained their grimy, domineering way with Corey Perry leading the league in ugliness both on and off the ice. Problem is Perry is also a damn good hockey player, as is Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler and Hampus Lindholm and others—this team has serious depth. As much as I want to hate the Ducks and you probably do as well, they’re back to a 50/50 blend of physicality and skill under former coach and Your Friendly Neighborhood Plumber, Randy Carlyle.

Ryan Getzlaf is out with a lower body ailment, which means slashing will be reduced by at least 71% tonight.

First Period

The game has a pretty balanced pace through the first 10 minutes, with the Red Wings forcing a couple quality chances. Larkin, again out there with Glendening, almost uses him to get an early redirection past John Gibson. Anaheim is getting shots as they tend to do, but not much challenge to Mrazek.

Nick Ritchie gets his 9th goal of the season and the Ducks are on the board. Yes, Ritchie has 9 goals. I bet you didn’t know that either. He gets this one cleaning up some junk in front off a bad turnover from Ericsson around the boards. The Ducks get it to the net with traffic, rebound slips out, Ritchie bangs it in on the doorstep.

There’s some controversy with this one. Blashill and Co. are having a frank conversation with the linesmen on how that wasn’t called an icing. On replay, the only player it hit on the Ducks clear was Vermette and he was nowhere near the red line. This is a good and well principled argument from Blash. Unfortunately the goal will stand.

1-0 Ducks (Ritchie (9) at 13:54 from Antoine Vermette and Ondrej Kase)

Ouellet, who was out front on Ritchie’s goal, takes a penalty his next shift. Wonder if he’ll get the Sproul treatment?

The Wings kill off the Ducks power play with relative ease. Anaheim got no high-danger chances, while Detroit did a fine job clogging up lanes.

First frame concludes 1-0 Ducks. It was a meh period from both squads. Best things I can take away for the Red Wings was some pressure early from the Larkin line and a good penalty kill, which they’ve struggled with—among everything else—these past few games. There was some issues getting the puck out of the zone see; Ritchie’s goal and just general movement issues as the period went on.

Penalties

DET- Ouellet (Tripping, 14:52 ), Smith (Tripping, 18:16)

ANA- Kesler (Interference, 18:16)

Shots

DET- 6

ANA- 10

Second Period

Less than two minutes in, the Wings break through the neutral zone, with Nielsen tossing the puck to Kronwall on a beautiful pinch and an even more gorgeous slip back to Smith who also crashes in to bank it off Gibson, the post and across the line.

Wait, ugh. No. They’re reviewing the goal. Looking live I’m not exactly sure what they’re reviewing.

The goal is reversed for interference by Smith which I thought was iffy. The puck was fluttering across Gibson right at the point of contact by Smith. There was a lot of contact, the question is whether it impeded Gibson’s ability to the puck. It was close enough the call gets reversed.

If you want to get slappy with this, Detroit got screwed with the no icing called on Anaheim’s goal, then a close call to reverse their goal.

BUT the Red Wings have been clearly outplayed. That’s the bottom line for me.

What’s with Mrazek and these mile long rebounds he’s giving up? Other than Anaheim’s goal in the first, he’s recovered to handle them well tonight. He also had a strong save on a point-blank shot from Rakell. Still, Mrazek has struggled all around save for a couple performances earlier in the season. I’ve been nothing but disappointed. I have very high hopes for him. At this point I’m having to reassure myself he’s only 24, goalies usually take a bit longer to figure it out. The flashes are there.

The Ducks, again, have returned to their grimy form since being reunited with Carlyle. Teams have targeted yet-to-fill-out Dylan Larkin all season. This scenario has played out predictably. Joe Cramarossa tried to cram-arossa his stick into Larkin at the end of one play then Kesler knocked his helmet off in front of Anaheim’s net. No calls on either.

Uh oh. Smith, who just returned from a knee injury, skates off right to the locker room gingerly after getting tied up with Cam Fowler. This ends up drawing a penalty on Fowler, though in fairness there wasn’t much contact. Maybe some chirping from the Wings bench earned them a call?

We see the debut of Ott on the powerplay and surprisingly it’s inconsequential, with Nyquist getting the only decent scoring chance.

Then Sheahan misses high on a chance all alone.

That’s the extent of the Wings offense.

Still 1-0, Ducks after two periods.

Penalties

DET- None

ANA- Cam Fowler (Interference, 14:44)

Shots

DET- 10

ANA- 9

Third Period

It opens with Smith AND Kronwall not returning to the bench. Not sure what happened with Kronwall but other than the pinch and set up he had on Smith’s negated goal, he had a rough night. Speculation continues that it was Smith’s right knee giving him trouble.

I’m hoping Jensen plays all 20 minutes this period....eh after watching the way Perry just walked him for an early scoring chance, maybe not.

I’m watching this game on a stream carrying the Anaheim feed. From what I understand, you can hear the Fox Sports Detroit production crew over Ken and Mick. Bummer, that’d be way more entertaining than what happening on the ice.

Ritchie gets a wide open chance from Kase streaking through the slot and puts it wide. Some big defensive breakdowns happening already in the third. Based on this team’s track record, I can’t blame the short bench.

Ericsson jolts his head back to draw a call on Ritchie. I guess revenge for the goal? It appears on replay it was an embellishment. But good on Ericsson for bringing about that.....overdue?....powerplay.

HAHAHAHA uggggggh Ott plows into Gibson negating the powerplay. I don’t even know what the hell was going on there.

Did you know Ott grew up a Red Wings fan? Anyway, Athanasiou was a healthy scratch tonight.

Zetterberg will be taking a penalty now. What strikes me is he clearly knew he got caught and was visibly frustrated. Imagine being in Hank’s shoes? Everything has collapsed around you after a career of only knowing the playoffs, Datsyuk and—at-best—marginal success. Soon he’ll be playing wing on Glendening’s line.

Blashill has removed Tatar from the top line after he, Mantha and Zetterberg have only combined for three shots and zero quality chances. Nyquist is moved up instead of Larkin. Okay, sure, who the hell cares anymore.

Vanek uses those silky smooth jazz hands to draw a late penalty on Lindholm. Well, nothing happening on the man-advantage again. No power play goals on the road since October 19. Humiliating considering they brought in a new coach and system to fix the powerplay. It’s humiliating for any team in any scenario really.

Kevin Bieksa shoots from the point, shot redirects off Vermette, right to Kase who flips it past Mrazek to make it 2-0. This line has been dominant forechecking all night, accounted for six shots and earned both goals. Impressive work.

2-0, Ducks (Kase (3) at 17:06 from Bieksa and Vermette)

Oullet takes another bad penalty. Rough night for XO, who might’ve sat for this tomorrow night in LA if it not for the injuries to Smith and Kronwall.

That’ll do it. Gibson makes 23 saves, Ritchie and Kase with the goals. 2-0 win for the Ducks.

Penalties

DET- Ott (Interference, 8:48), Zetterberg (Tripping 11:16), Ouellet (High-sticking, 19:18)

ANA- Ritchie (High-sticking, 7:59), Lindholm (Tripping, 14:53)

Final Shots

DET- 23

ANA- 24

Final Thoughts

It was another unwatchable game from an unwatchable team. If you’re lucky you chose sleep instead or were playing Super Mario Run or maybe just stared at a wall for 3 hours. Almost anything would be better than watching this Wings team—AGAIN.

Following the Centennial Classic and an overtime win in Ottawa, maybe, just maybe you thought the flashes shown in those performances would meld into some consistency. We simply cannot expect that from this disjointed lineup consisting of bent and warped puzzle pieces. There’s no cohesion through the neutral zone or powerplay. This team looks traumatized at the hint of a forecheck. I just don’t see this getting much better, especially with some of lineup decisions made tonight. You know what I’m referring to, I don’t need to be (that) redundant.

This season peaked in October. Maybe there’s been the slight elevation tickle here and there but it comes fast and it’s fleeting. There’s a lot of new lows in a losing season. Most of us will be experiencing it for the first time. Oh the monotony.

Ah well, time to pack up the bus to the Staples Center and take on red hot Jeff Carter and the Los Angeles Kings.