Tonight the Red Wings take on the Boston Bruins looking to finish up their road trip on a positive note before heading back to the also-not-friendly-confines of The Joe.
Detroit is playing a back-to-back after a notoriously ugly first half against the Maple Leafs. The first two periods were largely regarded as the worst effort of a poor season. Zetterberg, whose face was cut late in the game, earned stick taps for giving a symbolically bloody post-game interview where it appeared he just finished fighting in a World War battle.
Despite last night’s carnage, Detroit fans do have one thing to look forward to; for the first time since pre-season (at least that I can recall) Mantha, Athanasiou and Larkin will be on a line with Larkin centering. Hopefully that’ll be fun as we imagine. Right now all we have to look forward to is some loose, experimental hockey—not that slop fest we saw last night.
Boston is 8-3-0 since firing Claude Julien in favor of Bruce Cassidy. Call it luck that pucks started going in the net after the coaching change, or maybe you can suggest their coach losing his job woke the team up. In any case, the Bruins are playing their most consistent hockey of the season.
The Bruins are 2-0-1 vs. Detroit this season, with the last game being an emotional three goal comeback by the Wings.
First shift for the Larkin-Athanasiou-Mantha line was uneventful. They had one zone entry that didn’t materialize. Not much bruin for either squad early on.
A couple Boston roster notes while things are slow. Austin Czarnik from Washington Township, was recalled today to face his hometown club. Matt Beleskey is a healthy scratch, which has happened a lot lately. Oft criticized Bruins GM Don Sweeney signed Beleskey as a UFA in 2015 to a five year $20 million deal. Last season Beleskey had a decent enough 37 points but not the production you want out of that contract. This season? Only 7 points. Sounds like another David Clarkson (or uh maybe Abdelkader?).
Nyquist, coming off a two goal performance against Mike Babcock, just fans on a golden set-up by Zetterberg on a shot fake. Just couldn’t get good wood on the puck with a practically empty net.
Oh my goodness.
David Krejci takes DeKeyser for a walk like its 2011. A long break out pass ricochets off the boards and Krejci beats DeKeyser clean, goes in wide on Coreau then cuts back short side to make it 1-0.
Bruins 1-0 David Krejci (at 11:07 from Drew Stafford and Zdeno Chara)
Is DeKeyser injured? Like, has he been injured the entire season and we just haven’t heard about it or he’s playing through it because of Kronwall and Ericsson’s injuries? I don’t know. He looks slow. Considerably slower than the past—ineffectively slow.
So slow Brad Marchand cycles back to the line, takes a nice neutral zone pass from Pastrnak on a curl, then splits Mike Green and DeKeyser to make it 2-0.
Bruins 2-0 Brad Marchand (at 12:08 from David Pastrnak)
Turnover in the neutral zone by Zetterberg, puck pinballs in, Jensen fails to clear, Stafford picks it up, takes Coreau wide like the American League goalie he is and beats him short side.
That’s the end of Coreau’s night and probably the last time we see him in Detroit for a while. Which is fine. He stepped in on a bad team and held the back up role for longer than anticipated. Not a very high ceiling coming into his situation. That said, I never want to hear about him being protected in the expansion draft over Mrazek and Howard again.
Bruins 3-0 Drew Stafford (at 13:32 unassisted)
Wings showing some frustration and bite after Dominic Moore takes a chop at Mrazek. Ouellet tackles him and they both go to the box.
Well, Larkin gets picked by Pastrnak who finds Krejci out front beating Mrazek.
We’re not going to see Larkin for a while after that turnover. At this point in the season, I’d encourage the younger players to play through their mistakes to keep confidence up but that’s not A Good Hockey Lesson, especially with how Blashill’s coached this season.
Excuse me, I’m going to crush a box of Oreos now. Maybe a box of wine too. [Ed note: it’s called a rack of Oreos - J.J.]
Bruins 4-0 David Krejci (at 19:45 unassisted)
DET- Larkin (hooking at 7:59), Ouellet (roughing at 18:10)
BOS- Moore (slashing at 18:10)
(If we must)
The Wings get their first shot in 12 minutes. Cool!
Ed Olczyk has been tough on Larkin and Mantha in his call of this game. Obviously all the Wings are having a bad game but he seems to be singling them out. It’s unfortunate to hear Mantha be criticized with the excellent season he’s having. I don’t think he’s had a failure to move his feet as Edzo alleged in the first period. It sounds like he’s the lazy one and hasn’t read a scouting report on Mantha in two years.
Larkin, who’s really been beat on so far tonight, is a more complicated case. He goes from playing regularly with Tatar and Datsyuk to having to play wing with Glendening and Sheahan. Not only have Larkin’s linemates not been as complimentary but his lack of size has been targeted regularly by teams. He’s yet to fill out, teams are throwing everything at him physically. Most irritating, Pierre McGuire asserts Larkin isn’t capable of playing center because he lacks defensive awareness. HE’S ONLY TWENTY YEARS OLD PLAYING ON A TERRIBLE TEAM. Larkin might not be quite the generational talent he flashed last season but he hasn’t lost the tools to be a great player. Withhold judgement through this season, especially speculating on his defensive abilities and whether he’s a center or wing. Ironic to the Red Wings system, Larkin got thrust into developing in the NHL. This season has been disappointing by every measure, but writing him off at this very green point in his career is absolutely foolish.
...I digress, back to the game.
My assumption that Larkin would spend some time on the bench after that costly first period turnover was incorrect. He’s played regularly and actually got some penalty kill time which makes me very happy. Probably wasn’t punished because his last name isn’t Athanasiou.
So Mantha gets in on that hot apple turnover bake off, gaining the zone then skating himself into proverbial corner. Colin Miller gets it up Marchand who (easily) comes in alone and tucks it under Mrazek’s pad.
Boston 5-0 Brad Marchand (at 16:55 from Colin Miller)
Hey, Kronwall gets his first goal in over a calendar year! Larkin off the draw to Green to Kronwall who knucklepucks bar down and in. Good for the old timer. Might be his last career goal.
Boston 5, Detroit 1 Kronwall (at 17:35 from Green and Larkin)
That’ll do it for the second period. Thankfully only one more to go. (There will be no comeback tonight).
DET- Helm (high-sticking at 10:03), Jensen (interference at 15:29)
BOS- Frank Vatrano (embellishment at 15:29)
Pastrnak grabs the loose puck off the draw, turns and fires from the high slot through traffic. That makes six goals for Boston. Pasta throws his broken stick from the goal into the crowd. Winning hockey is fun. Don’t let the temperatures fool you, it’s been a long cold winter.
Boston 6, Detroit 1 David Pastrnak (at :34 from David Krejci)
A bit of history representing the futility of this season, Sheahan now holds the NHL record for most shots without a goal at 87. Pat Iversen at the SB Nation mothership has a great breakdown of Sheahan’s spectacularly unlucky season.
BOS- Brandon Carlo (interference at 9:08), Dominic Moore (hooking at 15:43), Frank Vatrano (too many men at 17:55)
DET- 27 (Bruins really let up)
Goodnight, Jim Kyte.