It’s the Dad’s Trip, y’all! You know what that means!
It means a particularly meh performance in a game that you should have had easily taken. An annual tradition, like no other.
Unlike many times before, the Red Wings seemed to have a really good start to an early-afternoon game. They handled the Sabres really well, holding the lion’s share of puck possession. Andreas Athanasiou was flying, and Michael Rasmussen was showing off his ability to use his frame. Watching him fend off players with his size and strength is something else. I propose that he should be playing where Justin Abdelkader is, but I’m no expert!
The Sabres did manage to have a really good scoring chance from Casey Mittelstadt — He was in on Jimmy Howard and had him clearly beat, but it rang off the crossbar.
Detroit had a chance on the power-play, and I mention this because once they got it settled down, they were moving the puck extremely well. No goal to show from it, though. Their biggest scoring chance came on a two-on-one rush with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening. As you could probably guess, they didn’t capitalize. 20 minutes showed no goals for either side — but the Red Wings commanded the tempo of play.
The tides of the game completely shifted in the middle frame. It’s as if both teams swapped positions from the 1st period. Detroit was largely ineffective in every way, while Buffalo buzzed around the ice. The only difference is that the Sabres had a burst of offense. It took one minute and 15 seconds for the Sabres to score — Connor Sheary picking up the tally on a very bad play by Justin Abdelkader. Sheary leaned into a wrist shot, which beat Howard’s short-side. Casey Mittelstadt would pick up the next goal on the power-play. Jack Eichel hit him right on the tape with a precise pass.
As he normally does, Dylan Larkin acted as the spark for Detroit when he picked up a power-play goal on a quick wraparound attempt. It was a great heads-up play by Thomas Vanek to get Larkin breaking into the zone so quickly:
Dylan Larkin with his 23rd of the year. (PP) pic.twitter.com/lUc30fBQIU— Kyle M. (@KyleWIIM) February 9, 2019
Michael Rasmussen got called with holding, which led to another fatal power-play attempt by Buffalo. Kyle Okposo picked the corner with a laser. Jimmy Howard, clearly not looking like himself. It should be noted that Nick Jensen is playing extremely out of character. Ultimately, the Red Wings showed a lack of talent, a lack of creativity. It was north-south, which nothing else. The Sabres picked up on it in the 1st intermission, leading to a big adjustment
You would expect another level of urgency in the final period when you’re down two goals, but I didn’t see it. A few chances, but ultimately a lackluster push. It was a score-less 3rd period, which means the Red Wings would go down to the Sabres, 3-1.
It was a strange game — it started promising, then unraveled to a “meaningful loss,” and then turned into a big step backward. Not much time for rest. Detroit is back in action tomorrow against the Blackhawks. Tune in — It will be Mike Tirico’s first time play-calling an NHL game. I cannot guarantee much more excitement than that. Sorry.