The Red Wings won in Boston for the first time in forever with a 4-2 victory over the Bruins in a game in which every single goal came off a Red Wings player (sorry Cholowski and Witkowski). For my money, I’m taking the key play as Dylan Larkin’s power play goal because it was the most-satisfying Red Wings power play goal in years.
This time, I’m talking narratively rather than analytically.
The Red Wings are on the power play in the 2nd period after a heated 2nd period boiled over into what almost got us a goalie fight (if not for the 2nd instance of the refs creating goalie interference of the night). Things were already warmed up after Luke Witkowski caught David Krejci with his head down at center ice to stop the Bruins’ power play from transitioning through center ice. Joakim Nordstrom challenged Witkowski to a fight and the two sat for their customary five.
When Luke is on the ice, you've got to have your wits about you. pic.twitter.com/UAkQypTDEI— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) December 2, 2018
Following the end of that penalty, the play continued chippier than it had been before and things exploded when Brad Marchand ran Nick Jensen in the Wings’ end. Tyler Bertuzzi took exception to the hit and tried to goad Marchand into fighting but instead took a slash from Colby Cave. Undeterred, Bertuzzi continued to try to get at Marchand, finally deciding he had enough of Boston’s primary pest after Marchand slashed Jimmy Howard, who was skating to the bench.
Tuuka Rask decided he wanted to get in on the action and came out to center to challenge Jimmy Howard, but the refs wouldn’t let the netminders settle things via full-contact sign language.
Guess who is right in the middle of things as the Bruins and Red Wings veer into chaos. pic.twitter.com/sXBUlcwxde— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) December 2, 2018
Larkin wins the faceoff, Mantha hits the post, Nyquist recovers the puck for Green back to Mantha, who goes across to Nyquist for a shot/pass-redirect off Larkin’s stick in front. Abdelkader puts the rebound off the post, but Larkin crashes in and ends the play to make Boston pay for their antics.
Credit Where Credit is Due
On the technical side, Larkin and Nyquist are the heroes on this power play setup with good support/decision-making by Abdelkader, Mantha, and Green. There’s good movement with and away from the puck and support as a five-man unit.
Narratively, the Luke Witkowski hit on Krejci that kind of started the storyline down this path was really good defense by the guy and I know that I’m flirting with a post hoc ergo propter hoc problem here, but it very much feels like what happened from that point was good for this Red Wings team in terms of coming to each other’s aid. I’m not crediting it all to Other Luke, but if I’m going to spend so much time openly questioning his value to the team, it’s only fair to point out when I feel that he’s made a positive contribution.
There’s also something extremely satisfying in the way this “statement goal” was scored by Dylan ‘Future Captain’ Larkin and it appears as though his response to having scored the goal showed a level of satisfaction with having scored it similar to my level in having watched it being scored.