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RECAP: Red Wings thin offense sputters in Montreal 3-0

Detroit Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Red Wings came into Tuesday night with their greatest challenge yet; not only are they missing one of their top wingers in Tyler Bertuzzi, they’re also missing Dylan Larkin, who missed the game due to a personal matter. That put Michael Rasmussen in the first-line center role, which really should have painted a picture as to how this game would play out.. After taking down the Habs 4 times last season, the revenge tour continued for Montreal, who handed Detroit an ugly 3-0 shutout.

I’ll apologize now — my analysis is poorer than normal because I spent most of the game speaking expletives toward my TV because of the audio offset on BSD+.

I don’t think the start of this game could have gone worse for the Detroit Red Wings. They were easily hemmed into their own zone from the opening face-off, which forced Alex Nedeljkovic into a bad spot. It was a matter of minutes before Montreal opened the scoring. The Red Wings didn’t really have much to show for it aside from a couple of short possessions where they gathered a couple of chances. Just when you thought the Red Wings were picking up some steam, they rattle off a 2nd goal and the 1st period closes with little to show for the Red Wings.

The 2nd period was improved, but still some glaring issues in the Red Wings’ game. They held Montreal score-less, but couldn’t manage to score a goal despite some prime opportunities, including a shortened look on 5-on-3. What stood out is Michael Rasmussen. He stood out like a sore thumb. It was clear maybe even 20 minutes into the game that he was in a little over his head with that top-line assignment. I think Joe Veleno was a better choice, especially given the way JV has played in his very short NHL stint.

Alex Nedeljkovic again got his team out of some sticky situations in the middle frame, but the offense just wasn’t there. Perhaps a classic case of “too much passy, not enough shooty.”

I mean, you know it’s bad when the official Red Wings Twitter account doesn’t post anything for an entire period.

Going into the 3rd period, I felt like there was a major shift coming from the Red Wings.. A shift that could maybe push this game to a loser point. That fight did not happen. Detroit again sputtered on offense and leaned too heavily on good goaltending. It all came to its miserable end with an empty-net goal from Brendan Gallagher. A forgettable night for Detroit, but one that two of its stars won’t remember.

Not sure what we should expect when 2 of your best players aren’t dressed and Michael Rasmussen is your replacement pivot on the 1st line. I couldn’t think of a player who looked more in-over-his-head that Rasmussen. That’s not a knock on the guy — he’s a fine bottom-six player and still has a lot of room to grow in his game... But I got some bad news — even against a weak NHL team, he is not even close to being a top-line guy.

The Good News

Detroit is looking at a stretch of games outside of Canada. That means Tyler Bertuzzi will be back (he cannot play in Canada because he has declined the COVID-19 vaccine) and hopefully the team will have Dylan Larkin back soon as well. That’s the good news.

Player of the Game: Alex Nedeljkovic

Detroit looks ahead now to a Thursday night matchup at TD Garden with the Boston Bruins.