The Wings came into Tampa off of back to back embarrassing losses to Boston and Montreal, and having dropped their first 6 games of the season. The Wings haven’t beaten Tampa since 2016, but it could be that we are their trap team.
The Blashill Bingo Wheel of Doom created quite the interesting set of starting lines including long names in small font for the 3rd line, Helm on the first line, and Witkowski and Hicketts together on the blueline. Hronek? I don’t know her. Sulak? Bye.
James got the nod in goal, and Tampa came into tonight with a record of 4-3-1 but have only scored 15 goals over that time - and 8 of those were against the Jackets.
Dylan Larkin came into the game baby-faced again, no more beard attempt. Could this be the difference maker? Darren Elliot remains unshaven and looking more and more like someone who has just given up on life. Taking his cue from the team, I guess.
The Wings came out like a team hungry to win, creating some good scoring chances in the first 5 minutes and then Kronwall was sent to the box for interference. Abdelkader and Ehn got themselves a 2-on-1 chance shorthanded but couldn’t bury it. Yes, Abdelkader and Ehn.
Tampa scored shortly after the powerplay expired on a bank-shot from behind the goal that Brayden Point deflected into the goal off his skates as he was stopping. Stupid goal but not a kick and not breaking any rules, putting Tampa up 1-0.
Did I mention the reason Point was in the crease is because Kronwall - fresh out of the box - pushed him into it? Give Kronner an assist here.
Halfway through the period, Luke Glendening put himself in the penalty box and our penalty killers took care of business with no harm done. Nyquist is now with Abdelkader and Rasmussen while Nielsen centers Vanek and Mantha. Sure, why not? Why is anyone with anyone doing anything anywhere at any time anymore?
The rest of the period was pretty chippy with not a lot of good scoring chances on either side until Rasmussen gets hooked with a minute left and the Wings go on the powerplay. The Bolts nearly score shorthanded at the horn but the Wings managed to escape the period only down 1-0.
If Witkowski doesn’t pick up Hicketts and roll him into a group of Bolts players like it’s elf bowling by the end of the second then I quit.
Mick quote mood: “Jeff Blashill got em all, bingo balls all over the place on that one.”
Red Wings back at it with a minute left on the powerplay carried over from the 1st including a decent chance for Vanek but no go and the Bolts kill off both halves of the penalty. Nyquist, Larkin, and Helm are back together as the top line and play a long shift due to some turnovers and a weak icing.
J.T. Miller wipes out and takes out Witkowski’s legs so he goes to the box for tripping and the Wings get another powerplay. Yes, Kronwall is on the powerplay. Tampa kills it off but who cares because LGD pinballs the puck with Abdelkader and Daley until it’s finally in the net. Great pass from Cholowski to start the rush, too.
We have a tie game folks, it’s 1-1!
The period continues to be pretty choppy with a lot of back and forth that doesn’t go anywhere, AA almost has a nice chance but overskates the puck, he’s employing the bold strategy tonight of not shooting the puck or going on breakaways.
Wings get a great scoring chance where Bertuzzi breaks in and passes over to Nielsen who snipes toward the open corner but Vasilevskiy slides over to snag the shot. Gives the Wings a little buzz, and some spice is added with Bertuzzi getting 2 minutes for roughing and Cedric Paquette getting 4 minutes for roughing after a little shoving match in the corner after the save.
There was no real reason for the penalties to be uneven, given that even Nielsen came in to give Paquette a shove. In the spirit of fairness the Wings give up what feels like nonstop short handed chances. Luckily James saves the day, but the crowd is buzzing now that the pace has picked up with some great chances on both sides.
Unfortunately, the best chance comes to the Lightning and Stamkos scores his first of the season. Bolts up 2-1 with 4:41 to go in the second
Detroit is going back on the powerplay. Interference against Bertuzzi on Palat. Bertuzzi is just bugging the heck out of everyone, as he should. Bolts kill the penalty but Wings had a few good looks.
Wings just seem to be half a second late on all their scoring chances, pucks in the feet, overskating, plain old not seeing the opportunity. But you can see the guys starting to feel some hope again and not the soul-consuming depression that’s plagued them since Boston.
At least Mickey is really enjoying Hicketts getting pushed into people.
Wings head to the locker room down 2-1, which is probably better than most of us expected.
Mick quote mood: “You gotta shoot the puck, big guy.”
The first 2 minutes were all Red Wings with Bertuzzi leading the charge, if the Wings crumble during the third then I’m not sure everyone is making it to the bus alive.
Red Wings take a penalty, and Mick and Ken argue about whether tugging on the jersey is a penalty. You can guess who took which side.
Red Wings give up a 3 on 1 during the powerplay and Jimmy makes a spectacular save to keep the dream alive. The net came off the posts and the refs just kinda let them keep playing anyway. The Bolts don’t have any scoring chances while the net is askew so no controversy to be had. Wings kill the penalty and we’re still down 2-1.
Kronwall drops his stick and then grabs onto Point’s arm and he goes back to the box. The PK crew has a quick conference on ice that I assume was like “hey, if we give up another 3 on 1 you’re going to start seeing Jimmy’s crazy eyes following you in your bathroom mirror.”
The threat of a Howard Haunting seems to work as the penalty is killed without too much fuss. Helm quickly gets a huge chance on the doorstep set up beautifully by Vanek but Helm stone hands it.
Helm was open because two Bolts decided to cover Vanek, and frankly it’s just nice to see another team having a poopy defense for a second.
5 minutes left and still 2-1, Bolts are starting to buzz and then loudly boo the ref for a suspicious icing call which kills some momentum. Mick may have dipped into the ginger ale as he goes on a tangent about Hedman’s ice time.
Nyquist gets one of the best chances of the game with an open net and can’t get the shot off. 2 minutes to go and Jimmy heads to the bench. Bertuzzi with a huge block but at no point with the empty net and with a minute to go Alex Killorn gets the ENG to make it 3-1.
To be clear, there was an entire minute of empty net goal time where the Wings were not able to even be in the Tampa zone, let alone get a shot on net. It was baaaaaaaad.
Wings go on the PP with half a minute to go after some big stupid fart kettle slashes noted precious bundle of sunshine Larkin. Nothing comes from it, and the Wings sashay away with their 7th loss in a row.
Mick quote mood: “I never asked you, did you go to college?” (Ken Daniels would not declare his major but did go to York University)
Until Next Time...
The Wings can hold their heads up medium knowing they didn’t look like a bunch of arthritic old wombats out there. The fun, flashy goals will come. But for tonight it was something to just get some sort of foundation rebuilt and remember that they are, in fact, an NHL hockey team.
Jimmy and Bertuzzi might be the standouts on the good side and Kronwall was the standout on the bad side. Sorry, James. You kept them in it, but scoring? We haven’t figured that out yet.
It wasn’t a terrible outing for the Wings, disappointing for sure and the end of the third period was kind of atrocious, but it wasn’t an embarrassment that shames our ancestors so that’s something. The first two periods though, they did all right.
The Panthers are up on Saturday. They play the Caps tomorrow so it’s likely they will come into Saturday still having zero wins on the season.
Now onward, to the Battle of the Losers!
Let’s Go Red Wings!
P.S. DON’T TALK ABOUT HENRIK ZETTERBERG, MICK. IT’S TOO SOON.