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Left With A Hicksy: Red Wings pummel Penguins 5-2

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The rookie defenseman shines in home debut. Helm, Glendening, and Larkin follow.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Puck Drop

On an evening bursting with news, the hapless Red Wings are looking for just their second win in 15 games.

That news being Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill will return according to reports. Yes, tonight is the depth of the void we’ve screamed into.

This complacent and dated franchise carries on as if this season was acceptable. Tonight it’s against the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins as they appear geared up for a third run. An appropriate opponent recalling 10 years ago, these two teams battled in an what became a passing of the torch for class of the league. Now they’re merely passing ships.

Excuse my melodrama. It overshadows the call up of a player who, well, physically is easily overshadowed.

The pocket-sized wrecking ball—no, more like life-sized pinball that we’ve been waiting for, Joe Hicketts, has arrived.

We at least have him to look forward to.

Let’s go.

First Period

And wow, Larkin throws an errant pass toward Hicketts which is picked off by Guentzel, leading to him getting toasted by Crosby on a 2 on 1 for a goal. Annnnnnd that’s an incredibly tough start for a player I’m pinning my sights on tonight.

1-0, Penguins less than a minute into the game.

My hope is Blashill sticks to his word in pregame that he wants to see Hicketts prove he can “break the mold of an NHL defenseman”...whatever that means. But the operative word is prove. He needs to get back out there and prove he can shake off a tough break.

Southeast Michigan native Bryan Rust will go to the penalty box for tripping. We get a Wings power play that’ll hopefully feature Hicketts running the point against a vulnerable penalty kill.

Other than a hit post by Zetterberg as the power play expired, nothing going as usual. It actually led to a rush and drawn penalty by Rust on the other end. Kronwall goes off for a hook.

After about five minutes of inconspicuous back and forth, Helm finds a pinching Kronwall in the high slot and he buries it high to tie 1-1.

Helm to Kronwall? Can’t wait until that iPhone 4 comes out!.....Okay, no more jokes. Well, ones that bad at least. Low bar. Anyway, that’s Kronwall’s 400th career point. Good for him considering many thought he was going to retire this past off-season.

After a tough start, the Red Wings looked strong mostly controlling the play and getting some decent chances testing Murray.

Red Wings lead in shots 10-6, score tied 1-1 heading to the 2nd period.

Second Period

It starts with Crosby making noise again, initially on the door step all alone and Hicketts makes a huge play to save a goal with his stick.

Ericsson tries to get into it with Hornqvist—goes far as dropping his stick to egg his into fighting, but Hornqvist seems to just want to draw a penalty. By the way, watch Patric Hornqvist play whenever you get the chance. He’s another example of what the Red Wings believe they have in Abdelkader but really don’t. He’s just as physical and pesky, but he’s more agile in front, better in the corners, and has been the perfect compliment to all the skill of Malkin and Crosby.

So we have Howard wearing an I Just Got Traded This Morning all white mask while there’s a goal review. I got up to go to the bathroom and missed a lot. Guentzel had an opportunity short side and it almost snuck in under Howard’s pad. Now Howard has his proper back up mask while his gets repaired and he no longer looks like a preseason 5th stringer. The review is deemed no goal as the puck never conclusively crossed the line. We stay tied.

Bertuzzi hobbles to the locker room after blocking a shot. He was also shaken up after turning to block a shot in Montreal. Always face the shooter, kids!

Helm gets high sticked by hockey playing tree, Jamie Oleksiak. Wings will try to do something with 2 minutes.

HICKETTS GETS HIS FIRST CAREER POINT! Er uh, I mean Nielsen buries a wide open net after some beautiful puck movement up top back and forth between Hicketts and Frk, pulling in defenders leaving a lane for Nielsen. Wings go up 2-1.

And just like that, Glendening forces a turnover in the middle, turns it back up ice and Jensen fires one toward the net, Glendening gets the tip, it’s 3-1.

The Penguins have looked completely flat this period and Detroit has capitalized.

Third Period

The period opens with Detroit up in shots 20-12.

Malkin is buzzing early, cycling the zone himself getting off two shots and drawing a penalty.

Glendening forces another turnover and gets a shorthanded break, Murray gets the stop. The Wings have two strong kills on the best power play in the NHL.

Hicketts feeds it into the corner to Larkin who sends a perfect pass to Helm all alone in the slot to make it 4-1. That’s 3 points for Helm, 2 points for Larkin, AND 2 POINTS FOR HICKETTS.

Larkin is now doing that thing where he quietly puts together strong games. That’s a good sign.

After a long long loooooooong period of lethargy, the Penguins pull Murray and Letang scores off a turnover. Hornqvist with the great screen. Just under 3 minutes to go, 4-2 Wings.

This should be just enough to jog the Wings to the finish line. I’m just not seeing it from the Pens tonight.

Glendening dumps it into the empty net to make 5-2. That’s 10 (!) goals for Luke this season. Another extension is probably being drawn up as we speak.

That should do it for this one.

Final

Red Wings- 5

Penguins- 2

The Red Wings win one for morale—certainly not for their draft odds—on a night the Penguins simply took off. I’m not taking too much away from the Red Wings. They did what they needed to do to respond to their coach calling out their effort in Montreal.

Hicketts was a fresh pair of legs and added the exact spark I imaged he would, quarterbacking the powerplay, moving the puck well up ice, and also saving a goal early in the 2nd period that was arguably a pivotal moment tonight. I’m hoping Blashill goes throttle down on Hicketts. Play him into the ground. Let Hicketts learn from mistakes, give him room to respond, just let him react. He’s a raw hockey player—a fun and exciting one. Hicketts showed that energy tonight and it was contagious for the Wings.