On Friday night, with the Wings still looking for their first home win in late October, the Wings welcomed the Winnipeg Jets to the LCA. It was a Michiganza as nine Michigan-born players took to the ice and dozens of Michigan-born fans took to the lower bowl. When it was all said and down the Wings walked away with another moral victory, having improved upon Monday’s effort against the Canes, but moral victories ain’t bread. Bottom line is that Detroit once again came up short. Here’s how it went down.
The game opened with a little excitement as Michigan-born Dylan Larkin made a tremendous individual effort to carry the puck 200 feet, leading to a nice opportunity in front of the net for a Bertuzzi tap-in/redirect, but non-Michigan-born Winnipeg goaltender Laurent Brossoit made a good lateral move to stop the attempt. Michigan-born Luke Glendening, not to be out-Michigan’d, also had a nice effort to lug the puck up the ice, but really only lugged for about 50 feet, which somehow feels appropriate because grinding and grit don’t sound like fast words, especially the way they roll off the tongue. Those “GR” sounds, which is the acronym of Glendening’s hometown, which is in Michigan, just are not slick off the tongue. There’s no flow to it, not like the way “the water warbles over the rocks” pours out of mouth, which is smooth, like honey, or, you know, water, which reminds us of Waterford, which is where Michigan-born Dylan Larkin was born, specifically.
And that guy, he had a solid scoring chance, but instead of shooting passed the puck to Helm on a 2-on-1, which was stopped, and Nyquist had a grade-A chance and should have made it 1-0 hadn’t he blasted the crossbar. Despite the even 0-0 score, the Michigan team in red seemed to carry play into the first commercial break over the team in blue that is not from Michigan, but whose roster includes, in fact, many Michigan-born players.
It was clear Larkin was trying to set an example and set the pace, which really gave the Jets fits in the early going. Half way through the period the shots were 10-2 Red Wings, which is a sight for sore eyes to this Michigan-born blogger.
The Jets’ first solid opportunity didn’t come until after the half-way point when Andrew Copp (from Michigan, just fyi) got a puck on Howard’s doorstep off a fast-break that, for once, was going against the Wings, but Howard did well, turning the test aside.
Athanasiou was also flying throughout the period, not to be outdone by Larkin. On a break late in the first he drew a penalty was hard-charging the left side when Jacob Trouba (guess where he was born. Guess, dammit!) interfered with AA.
The power play started off looking real ugly, but once the Wings finally got a little sustained pressure they cycled the puck around the net behind Brossoit. Four of the Wings touched the puck as the puck made its
Lake Michigan Circle Tour round-the-offensive-zone tour, with the fifth, Mantha, creating the space necessary around the net front for Athanasiou to shoot a nice slapper from the mid-circle on the right side to make it 1-0 Red Wings!
The Wings must’ve felt bad, because Ericsson, who’d otherwise had a good period, hooked Mark Schiefele basically right after the goal. The Jets got a couple good looks, including a real-good look from Michigan-born Kyle Connor right on top of the crease, but Howard wasn’t having any of his near-Devil’s Night antics. The Wings even had an odd-man rush on the penalty kill. It could have been a goal hadn’t Helm bet Nyquist on the bench that he couldn’t hit Brossoit’s crossbar just as hard as the Swede had earlier in the period.
Score: 1-0 DET
Shots: 14-9 DET
Stand Ups: Athanasiou, Larkin, Cholowski, Michigan
Hilariously, John Keating screwed up announcing the Curly Fry Challenge during the intermission, instead stating the old rules before correcting himself. #TeachTheControversy, John Keating, or whatever stupid hashtag we’re going to make about this asinine thing.
The second period began with the Wings adjusting to the Winnipeg push-back that began mounting in the waning minutes of the first, which was weird to see, because the Wings have so seldom carried play this season. The Jets weren’t going to let the Wings keep momentum for long though, and they earned a nice opportunity for Roslovic. Howard flashed the leather on the puck, but the Jets weren’t done. Only moments the Jets got some good lateral puck movement, leading to a shot on Howard’s right. Howard made a sprawling save, but he lost eyes on the loose puck and it had to be cleared out by Dennis Cholowski.
By midway in the period the Jets overtook the Wings in shots, 16-15, but Howard wasn’t facing any particularly dangerous chances, so the Wings were doing a good job, for the most part, forcing the Jets to the outside where they were forced to take low-percentage shots.
After the commercial break there was some Michigany-Michiganderness emphasized, what with Kyle Connor and Zach Werenski joining Dylan Larkin when he Michiganed as a youth.
Oh, the Jets had a pretty dangerous looking powerplay (AA slashing call) during that time, but Howard bailed out his teammates. It ought to be mentioned that his movement tonight, especially lateral movement, has been great. The Wings live for this crap though, so AA went on slashing in what was surely a test-drive for his Halloween costume. Next time I see him on the ice I expect him to be wearing Bernier’s mask, just to get in character.
That AA penalty was killed off too, and I’d be remiss not to emphasize the killing in this case. The Jets held full momentum, though, and Howard made a sprawling glove save against Bryan Little off a smooth Nikolaj Ehlers pass. Howard was having a great night, but he couldn’t keep saving his team’s bacon.
And indeed he couldn’t. On yet another penalty kill (Bertuzzi hooking this time) the Jets finally push themselves into a tie against the Wings on their 28th shot of the night. And it’s... no... you can’t make me say it... but I’ve committed.... the Winnipeg Jets jam one in past Howard... off the stick of.... Michigan... born... Kyle Connor. 1-1 tie.
The Wings got another power play in the most power-charged period of hockey I’ve watched in a long time. Unlike the Jets though, they didn’t convert, and the period ended with the Wings wondering just how the hell to correct for an 17 shot differential in the second period. Jeeze.
Score: 1-1 Tie
Shots: 21-18 WPG
Stand Ups: Howard
Trouba got called for interference early in the period, but things got ugly when Tanev dropped to block Mantha’s shot in the slot and the puck deflected off Tanev’s glove and into his face. Here’s hoping to he’s okay, because it looked like hurt like crazy. Other than a Frk slap shot, the Red Wings didn’t get any good looks on the power play.
The game slowed through the early goings of the period, and not just for Wings fans, either. Neither Detroit nor Winnipeg could get much of anything interesting going. Things did heat up with a Winnipeg power play, but in the way you’d think. Larkin chased down the puck in Winnipeg’s zone thanks to a bad Byfuglien change and with some help from Glendening had one of the most impressive PK shifts I’ve seen from a Red Wing in a long time; the two of them effectively wasted over 20 seconds of Winnipeg’s powerplay and pulled all five Jets deep into their own zone.
The Wings began mounting a little pressure with some messy cycling behind the Jets’ net, but you know what Michigan-born Justin Abdelkader said? (Oh, did you think he wasn’t getting a plug in this recap? How could the mitten-masher not?) “Time to make this game even harder. I’m going to lose coverage of Dustin Byfuglien while reaching to intercept a pass and let him march in on my goalie, fire a hard wrister, and score.” 2-1 Jets.
Honestly, I shouldn’t be so cynical. Had Abdelkader intercepted the blue-line pass that pulled him out of position, he would have been off to the races and I try not to take personal stabs at players for the mistakes they make. But sometimes, it’s hard, especially with the way the season has gone.
In the waning minutes of the game, the Wings had some nice breaks that didn’t actually produce any shots on goal, but Winnipeg also held control way too long for a team that should be benefiting from scoring effects with four minutes left. The Wings pulled Howard for the extra skater with about 90 seconds left, but the Wings’ possession was choppy at best and lose 2-1 to the Jets.
Score: 2-1 Jets
Stand Ups: Larkin
What looked like a promising game against a very good team turned into an ugly second period and a routine (read: uninspired) third. It was a better game than Monday night, but Detroit still can’t consistently hang in a game, let alone consistently control a game. I really wish Larkin had potted a point somewhere in there because you can tell how badly he wants to put this team on his back and be “The Guy” for this team, but McDavid and Matthews would have a hard time being “The Guy” for this team. Also, Howard was lights out tonight and deserved a win, but goalies often don’t win when they deserve one, because it usually entails spending a lot of the game stopping shots. There are some good take-aways and improved effort tonight, but some nights it feels like “Where is the magic going to come from?” I’m sure the players are asking themselves that question every minute of their waking lives right now.
The Wings will be back at 5:00 PM on Sunday to host the Dallas Stars as they continue their quest for a home win.
In the meantime, I’mma just leave this here.