If you have read some of my other posts for WIIM, you know how frustrated I am with this team, like I’m sure most of you are. Going into tonight’s matchup vs. the Leafs (what’s good Mike Babcock?) the Red Wings sit 7 points out of a playoff spot, yet 6 points away from the bottom 3. There truly may be no worse place in the standings then where the Wings are. And for a team that could do wonders with (AND NEEDS) Rasmus Dahlin, they aren’t doing themselves any favors. But hey, aren’t Original 6 matchups and picking 9th overall cool? Off we go.
McElhinney in for just his 10th start of the year, future-Flyers goalie Petr Mrazek in goal for the Wings after stopping 31/32 last night vs. the Preds. Mike Green out again tonight so that’s promising because he can’t turn the puck over against the Leafs therefore they could still want him at next week’s deadline.
Right after the opening face-off, the “Go Leafs Go” chant trumps the “Let’s Go Red Wings” so that’s nice. Red Wings have a bit more jump early on, Tatar-Larkin-AA line providing majority of the chances early. Pretty back-and-forth through the first 5 minutes. Great chance on a 3-on-2 for the Wings after Mantha hit Nyquist in the slot who spun around and just sent it wide. Pretty much the best chance so far, 1st TV timeout.
Mantha with a short angle shot that almost went in, Nyquist followed up later with a great chance but the puck bounced on him. Top 2 lines really playing well early for Detroit. 2nd lines turn just a few minutes later. Red Wings swarming. Matthews follows the Wings attack with a ripper right off Mrazek’s mask, Hyman followed it up and buried it, but sneaky Mrazek threw his mask off preventing the goal. Smart play. 2nd TV timeout.
Back-and-forth play continues, Red Wings still with the best chances so far. Mrazek continues to play well, I really don’t want the Red Wings to trade him, but if they do, he’s certainly been upping his value of late. Leafs swarming of late, but Pete came up big. Final TV timeout with 5 to go in the 1st. Scoreless.
The Red Wings, $13.5M 3rd line with a few nice chances, but McElhinney has been strong so far. FSD shows a graphic saying Toronto out-chancing Detroit 5-4, but not sure that is accurate. With seconds to go in the period, the Leafs first line was all over the Red Wings. Matthews, Nylander, Hyman nearly scoring, but no dice. Entertaining scoreless 1st period.
Shots: 15-12 TOR
Athanasiou’s speed on display in the opening moments of the period as he won a race for the puck and almost buried a spin around backhand while cutting to the front of the net. Leafs top line providing issues again, Nylander circled the Red Wings zone and after making a pass to Reilly, Mrazek came up with a big save to keep it scoreless. Leafs really picking up play in the 2nd. After a big Leafs attack, Bertuzzi finds Glendening on a nice stretch pass to split the D, Zaitsev hooks LGD leading to our first penalty of the game.
One of the strangest plays I’ve ever seen happened. Larkin wristed a shot that was knocked down, Abdelkader in front of the crease had a wide open goal and backhanded it between his legs and it somehow didn’t go in. Didn’t matter though, as Nyquist followed up with a wrist shot that was deflected by Mantha for his 20th goal of the year. 1-0 Detroit. Shortly after, Helm turned the puck over for a Nylander breakaway and he absolutely fanned on the shot somehow. Ah, there’s the goal I was looking for. Leafs answer after Jensen couldn’t clear the zone, a Gardiner point shot was deflected by JVR and it’s 1-1. Aaaaaaand now total meltdown, Red Wings turn it over right in front of Mrazek and Marner delays long enough to bury it, 2-1 Leafs.
Well 2 goals in 18 seconds for the Leafs was fun. At the halfway point of the 2nd now and I am very curious as to how the Wings respond. Quick pace to this game as well, shows really where the NHL is as far as speed nowadays. Red Wings take their first penalty of the game, Ouellet for slashing. Larkin and LGD almost provide a shorthanded goal. LGD applied the forecheck that forced a turnover and pass in front to Larkin who just toe dragged too far and found himself parallel with the goal. Leafs PP is good, a few very good chance, but they somehow didn’t score. 5-on-5 with 7 minutes left in the 2nd.
With 4 minutes left in the period, Larkin had the puck roll on him and he sent it out of play in the defensive zone, 2nd penalty in the period for the Wings. Good PK from Detroit has nothing doing on the Leafs PP. Red Wings sustained a good amount of offensive zone time in the last couple of minutes, but nothing doing. Leafs threaten in the final seconds, but they are held in check as well. To the 3rd we go.
Score: 2-1 TOR
Shots: 27-20 TOR
3rd Period underway, Wings trying to tie it, I’m hoping they don’t. We’ll see what team we get in the final 20 minutes. Teams seemed to have tighten up a bit in the first few minutes. First little scrum of the game around the Leafs net, Abdelkader involved, of course. Few chances here, few chances there, but not much before the 1st TV timeout.
Atmosphere at LCA increases yet again with the fan bases offsetting chants. Hyman feeds off it and gets a breakaway before being denied by Mrazek with Daley trailing not far behind. Back the other way come the Red Wings. Nyquist with a beautiful seeing eye pass through everyone to a wide open Zetterberg next to an open net. Bam, 2-2 (sigh). Red Wings nearly answer right off the face-off with another goal, but McElhinney made the save. Wings swarming now as we hit the 2nd TV timeout.
Leafs have woken up a bit since the TV timeout. Kapanen almost hits Komarov on a cross ice one timer, but Komarov fanned on a wide open net. Should be 3-2. Things starting to pick up as the seconds tick down in the 3rd. Mantha almost found a puck lose in front, but just couldn’t get a hold of it to put it in the back of the net. 2-2, 5 minutes to go. Final TV timeout. Buckle up.
We’re brought back to LCA with Shania Twain jamming over the loud speakers, good stuff there. Ericsson rips a shot from the point that AA barely tipped wide, Tatar followed it up by firing a laser wide. Mantha the same. Wings really all over the Leafs with 3 to go. This feels like the kind of game the Wings should win because they’ve played better, but won’t (called it). Leafs turn to throw a right hook, lots of zone time for them as JVR and Connor Brown almost connect on a goal. Mrazek robs Marleau on a beautiful pass from Marner on a 2-on-1 of sorts. Detroit ices it with 37 seconds left. And off that, guess who? Auston Matthews. 3-2 Leafs. This is perfect, they need to start losing. Know what that kid Matthews was? A 1st overall pick and a generational talent. That’s the same for Dahlin. All aboard the train to Tanksville, USA, Red Wings fans!!!
Score: 3-2 TOR
Shots: 34-29 TOR