Let’s get this over with.
Less than two minutes into the game Larkin drew a penalty to allow the Wings the man-advantage. But of course that went about as well as anyone expected, so no goal.
The game was overall very harmless and uneventful, to the point I was about to start writing about Nielsen being much improved this year over last year, but then Detroit realized Chicago needed a guy to score his first NHL goal, so Bernier gave up a big juicy rebound of a slapper and Pius Suter, fresh from the Swiss League, was in the right spot to scoop up the rebound and fling it past Bernier, 1-0 Hawks.
To make matters worse, the refs decided to call Glendening for holding in Chicago’s zone after he was being held, so Chicago headed to the power play. Also fortunate for the Blackhawks was the commercial break that was called just after the whistle blew the penalty. Gave them plenty of time to regroup. Unfortunately for fans, that means we had to hear Eddie Olczyk speak.
The Penalty kill looked pretty good, actually, until the Wings got too aggressive trying to clear the puck. This pulled the Wings’ box too high into the zone, allowing the Hawks to tic-tac-toe another puck to, yes, Pius Suter, to score another goal just off Bernier’s left side, 2-0 Hawks.
The passing was just not crisp throughout the first, entirely up and down the lineup. Chicago had more hustle and applied a heavy forecheck, taking time and space away from Detroit up and down the lineup. Even the top line looked very bad, notwithstanding a Mantha shot that rung off the crossbar late in the period.
Stetcher went to the box for holding late in the period, but Detroit looked much more competent. Chicago really only got one good look, and Filpulla even managed to get a shot off at the end thanks to some good work by Glendening and Bert in the neutral zone.
Detroit would go to the power play one last time before the period closed thanks to Dominik Kubalik hooking Larkin. The period ended with 1:13 still left on the Kubalik penalty, so Detroit would have a good chance to come out and set the tone early in the second, if they could get something, anything out of their power play.
Score: 2-0 Hawks
Shots: 13-5 Hawks
Stand Outs: No one
Sit Downs: Everyone
Rasmussen won the draw to open the period and David Kampf interfered with him on the ensuing play, leading to a minute of 5-on-3 for Detroit. Detroit makes good on the opportunity off a Bertuzzi redirect from Larkin and Hronek! 2-1 Hawks with Detroit still on the power play for another 90 seconds!
Buuuut no goal during the 5-on-4.But this did lead to Detroit’s best 5-on-5 opportunity of the period a few minutes later as Smith out-muscled a Chicago defenseman on a dump-in, then dished to Larkin fresh off the bench. Great work by Smith there.
Mattias Janmark got a breakaway all alone on Bernier shortly after, but Bernier stood tall and stopped his shot. It was indicative of the game picking up pace in the second as Detroit slowly started to regain control of the game, playing more of their style. Obviously the Wings don’t want teams getting breakaways, but Detroit was indeed able to pressure harder on the forecheck, leading to Chicago looking for more desperate ways to break out of their own zone. You could also see it in the way the Hawks started to play a more clutch-and-grab style.
Chicago was able to get their licks in, too, though, and throughout much of the second the game turned into a much more even affair. Mantha did get a good breakout opportunity but was just forced a little too wide to get a truly dangerous opportunity, but it’s worth pointing out that he has had a pretty solid game being in the right place and getting shots on net.
But I’ll never type anything nice about anyone ever again because a few minutes later in the dwindling moments of the period, Mantha had a brutal giveaway while trying to clear the puck. Instead of a clear, Mantha floated the puck to a streaking Connor Murphy in the slot who made no mistake and buried it high, 3-1 Hawks. Nothing Bernier could do about that one.
The Wings started the period the way you always want to: with a goal. And then they ended it the way you never want to: a puck in your own net. A shame, too, as the flow of the game ever-so-slightly favored the Wings that period.
Score: 3-1 Hawks
Shots: 23-17 Hawks
Stand Ups: DeKeyser, Staal, The Power Play, Bernier
Sit Downs: Mantha
Well, Mantha was out with Glendening and Nemetsnikov to start the period, I guess to work on his defensive responsibility?
It didn’t work. Mantha failed to clear Janmark from the crease, who was able to redirect a pass from Kane into the goal. That is the third goal Chicago has scored off Bernier’s left side on the same basic play. 4-1 Hawks.
Connor Murphy scores to extend his point streak to a career-best 4 games!— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 24, 2021
Atta boy, Murph pic.twitter.com/gxhJqUOhe1
As the period rolled on the Wings just kept getting rolled on. It’s worthwhile to take a minute to consider Anthony Mantha’s play at this point because his defensive work has led to two goals. It very rarely falls on one guy like that, so it’s really unfortunate that Mantha has to bear the brunt for two goals. He continued to play well outside of that one stretch of the game, but his stretch of poor play was disastrous for the Wings’ chances today. I think it was definitely not a bad decision to put him on the checking line for a shift or two to force him to re-engage with the checking side of the game, but unfortunately it backfired terribly. Otherwise, he was finding the quiet and dangerous areas of the ice; he had Lankinen beat in the first and hit the cross bar.
Wings managed to get on the power play again mid-way through the period thanks to an interference call (those damn Blackhawks and their subtle interference) and another Bertuzzi redirect made it a 4-2 game, but a shift later Pius Suter was all alone in the right circle and snapped one high past Bernier to regain Chicago’s three goal lead.
Bert's 2nd PPG of the day pic.twitter.com/dXiZRWji35— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 24, 2021
Chicago shortly thereafter pushed their way in front of Bernier again. 6-2.
Then the game ended and no WiiM blogger was sad for the rest of the day.
Score: 6-2 Hawks
Shots: 35-27 Hawks
Stand Ups: The Power Play
Sit Dows: Literally everything else.
Sometimes I think about how hard it is to teach my students during a pandemic, then I recap a game like this and it’s all put into perspective.