Tonight the Red Wings match up against the Ottawa Senators; a team that’s much better yet somehow just as boring. Yes, the Senators, despite having arguably the best hockey player in the world and a goalie with an incredible personal story, they’re supremely milquetoast. You know what’s more appealing than watching the Senators play? The paint appealing off the side off their empty arena. But it’s not like us Detroiters can talk.
In the Senators’ last game, they were embarrassingly blown out 8-3 by the imploding Montreal Canadiens. While the Sens have done enough to hang in the extremely early playoff picture, they’ve already gotten 5 loser points. The Wings proved two seasons ago, you can get away with living dangerously. While it’s likely endemic of their mediocrity, you also wonder if its a symptom of missing Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson already. The Sens are a tub of paste; bland yet serviceable.
The Red Wings came off of, what I’ll argue their best offensive performance of the season. Sure, it came against a surprisingly putrid Coyotes team, who was likely tired after finally getting their first win of the season the previous night, but the Wings were dominant. Three lines strong, the Wings controlled the offensive zone and piled on shots. I’ll be looking to see if the top six carries that momentum into tonight.
And we’re off with oddly, future Evgeny Svechnikov roadblock, Scott Wilson feeding a beautiful cross ice pass to Glendening. The universe makes the save, reminding Luke he’s already got three goals and needs to chill. So uh, Wilson is sticking, causing David Booth to be waived two months earlier than expected. I don’t even remember him with Pittsburgh honestly and he played in the Stanley Cup Finals! Does anyone remember when the Wings had Mark Hartigan from the 2008 champs? No? That’s my point. We got the Penguins version of Mark Hartigan and so far, he’s play well.
Cody Ceci floats one in through traffic and appears to put the Sens up 1-0. Howard had to find the puck through two Red Wings defensemen and Ottawa’s Zach Smith. Surprisingly Blashill is challenging interference. Unless Smith’s name is Holmstrom, I do not see this coming back. Osgood is pointing out there some slight contact by Smith’s elbow but it’s a rea—-AND WOW, NO GOAL! They somehow rule interference when Smith was merely at the top of the crease. Guy Boucher is now not only mad at Spiderman foiling his jewel heist but these officials for that call.
So far the Red Wings have been controlling tempo outside the negated goal. However both goaltenders seem to be struggling seeing the puck. Hoffman gets a great chance after being sprung by a Dennis Wideman laser pass but Green does a better job and angling him off a better shot.
Ooof then a poor clearing attempt held in by Hoffman, dished to Karlsson who floats one to the net, where it pings off shin pads right to Mark Stone who slides it in fivehole on Howard. Poor defense by Mantha in front to not tie up Stone. Ericsson and Daley seemed to have gotten tied up with each other. Stone now has 8 goals. Damn.
1-0 Sens Stone (8) from Hoffman and Karlsson at 19:01
That’ll do it for the 1st period, which I felt the Wings controlled the tempo despite a questionably disallowed goal and ultimate lead for Ottawa. But a jar of mayo doesn’t need tempo to beat you in the end.
This game has become the slog I feared it would be. So far through the first 10 minutes I’ve been thinking about how dumb it was the Senators didn’t switch to their “O” sweaters this season. It was the perfect chance with the Adidas switch, instead we only got a font change on the letters and numbers. They’re still among the worst n the league—a hold over from the gaudiest design era in the league when every team had a gaudy third jersey. Pension Plan Puppets recent debated this and other jerseys in a post I highly recommend.
Finally a penalty. Like, something. Other than a couple good stops by Howard on Kyle Turris, I’ve had nothing to recap. So this call on Daley kind of sucked but this young penalty kill has some work to do. I see Athanasiou on the penalty kill and I’m glad Blashill is keeping his word giving him more special teams time. I think AA (and Larkin’s) speed on the penalty kill can be a major asset to develop. Didn’t look like it there though. Athanasiou blows coverage in the slot, Alexandre Burrows gets a beautiful feed from Stone and converts. Don’t let it be an indictment on AA. I want to see him have a longer leash. I know he could be better with his defensive awareness but hopefully in time that’ll round out while his game with the puck continues to flourish.
2-0 Sens Burrows (2) from Stone and Phanuef at 11:25
Other than a bouncing puck messing up a Larkin breakaway, the period ends quietly. Ottawa controlled a muddled period, really getting the Wings to fall into their game.
DET- Daley (holding at 9:39), Tatar (delay of game 17:19), Kronwall (high sticking 19:18)
OTT- Dzingel (holding at 19:18)
The Red Wings have been able to move the puck a little better but have still struggled to get any clean entries into Ottawa’s zone. Through out the game, I’ve been impressed by the speed of the Kid Line. Larkin has been able to generate a lot of chances with a strong forecheck. I especially think of a chance he set up for Mantha in the 1st, where he came from behind the play to strip the puck and fire a pass. He set up Mantha for a goal in similar fashion vs. Arizona. I bring this up because again, not much action happening, but also Larkin looks like his all-star self from the first half of his rookie season. I felt too many people quit on him last season. He was left with much to prove this season and so far he’s delivered. He’s been like that bee that keeps buzzing around you while you’re trying to eat your donut at the cider mill.
Uhhhh Osgood just got Daley and Johnny Oduya mixed up, then caught himself and was really embarrassed. Ozzie says, “I don’t know what I was thinking...They’re the same type of veteran defenseman.” Yes, Chris, let’s just hope that’s why you got the only two players of color in the game mixed up.
Wow, Perfect Human 2.0, Erik Karlsson is going to the box for an accidental high stick on Nyquist. And the Red Wings can’t keep hold the puck in the zone whatsoever. They had a hard time rotating to open up lanes then struggled with board battles. Not a shot on the power play. Just like that, Smith gets caught up trying to contain Athanasiou and the Wings go right back to the man advantage. Blashill now pulling Howard with around 4 minutes left. I’m a big fan of pulling the goalie early especially with the power play.
Using the extra man the Red Wings are able to move the puck around and get set up. Larkin positioned high along the boards is able to hold in an errant Frk shot, he simply dishes it off to Green, who throws it towards Mantha and Big Tony tips in his team leading 6th goal of the season.
Sens 2 Red Wings 1 Mantha (6) on the power play from Green and Larkin at 16:37
With Howard pulled the Wings try desperately to get something going but to no avail, Karlsson gets another damn assist (he has 12 in 8 games) floating it over to Nate Thompson who buries it into the empty net. An exclamation point on an Ottawa win with 10 seconds left.
Sens 3 Red Wings 1 Thompson (3) from Karlsson and Pyatt at 19:50
OTT- Karlsson (high sticking at 12:23), Smith (tripping 15:05)
Red Wings 1
This ended up being the game I feared it would be. In the 1st period the Red Wings were able to crack Ottawa’s system with speed. As the game went on they just couldn’t find their way through the neutral zone. Another indicator of the Senators play their brand of hockey is wearing their opponent down into taking penalties. The Wings got trapped in a physical game late in the second eventually giving up a power play goal. As much as I criticize the Senators, their style manages to work that’s why it frustrates its victims and viewers; they slow the game and capitalize on chances. You always hear hockey players with their head down in post-game interviews, between heavy breaths muttering the cliche, “we have to play the system”. Well, Guy Boucher has his team playing it to a tee. Tonight was another text book example and the Wings as a team and us as fans were victims.